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The Sixth Sunday After Pentecost C – July 17, 2022

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The Sixth Sunday After Pentecost C – July 17, 2022

Call to mind the lawyer of last Sunday’s gospel text (Lk. 10:25-37). Jesus dashed that legal expert’s hopes of a righteousness through obedience to the law. Jesus exposed how he wanted to put limits on the law to justify himself. In our text today, Martha suffers from a similar form of self-justification. She has decided that she is the servant of Jesus and works to extend the hospitality of her house to him (and presumably his entourage). This work distracted her (vs. 40). You can imagine it. Jesus (and who knows how many others) needed a meal prepared for them. Perhaps they even needed their feet washed (Jn. 13:6-12). All that hospitality wearies Martha and in exasperation she appeals to the Lord, “Tell my sister to help me!” (vs. 40). Right there, Martha commits her self-justification. Martha assumes that her chosen service should be Mary’s chosen service as well. Then, Martha makes the attempt to use Jesus (the Word of God) as an authority to compel Mary into joining her in her chosen service.

Jesus does not respect Martha’s self-justification. He responds to Martha by exposing her lack of peace and overriding anxiety. Jesus admonishes people not to be anxious and not to worry (Lk. 12:22-32). Instead, they should seek the kingdom of God (Lk. 12:31). Immediately, Jesus directs Martha’s attention to Mary. She is not, as Martha believes, just another worker to be drafted into Martha’s chosen service. Rather, Mary has chosen the “good portion.” This portion finds her sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to his teaching. Mary exhibits the attitude of a disciple and Jesus commends Mary for it.

Jesus’ lack of respect for Martha’s self-justification delivers an admonition to us centuries hence. It is a caution to you and me on those occasions when we would compel others to join us in our self-chosen service by using the Word of God upon them. It is a caution to all of us who would prefer “doing” over “hearing.” Service—that is, doing—is not to interfere with the “good portion”—that is “hearing” the Word of God. The “hearing” will not be taken away from us (vs. 42) because the Word of God endures forever. “Doing,” however, dies with us and is exposed as just another mortal work.

Table Talk: Discuss how both hearing and doing are necessary.
Pray: Heavenly Father, grant that I hear so that I may serve. Amen

Luke 10:38-42 English Standard Version

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”


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