Our gospel reading today is short and sweet and a story to which we find it easy to relate. Sometimes we ask: are we/you a Mary or a Martha? As if there is a choice.
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus as a disciple would do. She was undertaking a role usually reserved for men. She was keen to be a disciple of Jesus. True, she left Martha with all the work.
Martha, grumpy with all the work left to her, approaches Jesus for help to persuade Mary to get up and help. What sort of hospitality is Martha offering? Where is the gracious host? Can you imagine arriving at a house of friends for a meal and the comments before the food is served include, “I’ve had a busy
day, been rushed off my feet, but now that you are here we may as well sit down for a quick bite to eat.” How welcome would you feel?
Martha is both distracted from the message of Jesus and from her role as a host.
James offers a word of support for Jesus in his letter: “… be doers of the word, and not merely hearers …” Ja 1.22
We have the opportunity to be doers of the word with our gifts to BayCISS.
We do know that Jesus invites all of us who are worried and distracted by many things to sit and rest in his presence, to hear his words of grace and truth, to know that we are loved and valued as children of God, to be renewed in faith and strengthened for service. There is need of only one thing: attention to our guest. As it turns out, our guest is also our host, with abundant gifts to give.
Will you, men and women of All Souls, be both Martha and Mary?
I recall hearing the story of Naaman (2 Kings 5) as a child. I think I was stunned to think that a leper had to walk along and call out “Unclean, unclean.” How embarrassing! How frightening!
In Biblical times leprosy was incurable and it was feared. Yet, of course, leprosy is a sign only visible on the skin’s surface. The disease would have taken hold internally ages before it was visible. Leprosy was incurable in those days just as sin, which like leprosy takes hold internally, was incurable too. By ourselves we can do nothing about the problem of sin.
The leper was isolated from his/her community. Sin separates us from God and often from our community.
Lepers start to see discolouration of their skin before areas become numb or muscles atrophy. Sin is like this. Humans become separated from God, their hearts harden and spiritually speaking they die. Often we are not aware of this, but we become insensitive to all that God desires for us.
As the Lord healed Naaman the picture became obvious. His power to cleanse the leper demonstrated he was the solution to human sin and defilement; he alone was and is the means of reconciliation.
The term “cure” in 2 Kings 5:3 literally meant, “to receive back.” This provides us with a fitting picture of our reconciliation to God and to one another.
Namaan held a high position, but had a very great problem. We need to understand that God often uses the personal failures, sicknesses, and problems we have as a means to bring us to the end of ourselves and to a knowledge of the Lord and His salvation. God uses problems in life to force us to face our deeper problem, the problem of sin, and the need of God’s forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ.
So much from a sweet story about a servant girl and an illustrious leader. To the small boy that was all it was, but as I read it now I see so much more there.
All Souls Sandringham