Thursday, July 18, 2013
Nothing is more necessary
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
July 21, 2013
The episode is somewhat surprising. The disciples accompanying Jesus have disappeared from the scene. Martha and Mary's brother Lazarus is absent. In the house in the small village of Bethany, Jesus is alone with two women who adopt two different attitudes towards his arrival.
Martha, who is undoubtedly the older sister, welcomes Jesus as a housewife, and puts herself totally at his service. It's natural. According to the mentality of the time, dedication to household chores was the exclusive task of women. Mary, on the other hand, the younger sister, sits at the feet of Jesus to hear his word. Her attitude is amazing because she's taking the place befitting a "disciple" that beonged only to males.
At a certain point, Martha, absorbed by the work and overwhelmed by fatigue, feels abandoned by her sister and misunderstood by Jesus: "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." Why doesn't he order her sister to devote herself to the tasks proper to all women and cease occupying the place reserved for the male disciples?
Jesus' answer is very important. Luke writes it, probably thinking of the disagreements and small conflicts that were occurring in the early communities when the time came to set the various tasks: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
Jesus never criticizes Martha's attitude of service -- a basic task in any following of Jesus -- but he invites her not to let herself become absorbed by her work to the point of losing peace. And he reminds her that listening to his Word must be the priority for all, including women, and not some sort of male privilege.
It is urgent today to see and organize the Christian community as a place that takes care, first of all, of welcoming the Gospel in the midst of the secular pluralistic society of today. Nothing is more important. Nothing more necessary. We must learn to gather -- men and women, believers and less believing -- in small groups to listen to and share Jesus' words together.
This hearing of the Gospel in small "cells" could be today the "womb" from which the fabric of our parishes in crisis will be regenerated. If the common people know the Gospel of Jesus firsthand, enjoy it and demand it from the hierarchy, they will drag us all to Jesus.