Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Luke 10:38

It is late afternoon. The sun is heading for the rim of hills behind the village. The dust rises from the footfall of the arriving walkers. The woman is clearly eager to offer her hospitality as she bustles out to invite them inside her white cube of a house. They fill the room, which is already dark with the departure of the sun; Martha lights the oil lamps that sit on the shelf, on the long wooden table. The room fills with the smell of maleness, of dust, sweat, mingling with the not dissimilar smell of a vegetable stew, in which there are pieces of goat meat - slightly stringy, but a welcome addition for hungry men. There is bread, baked this morning, already toughening in the dry air, and rough red wine. A jug of water, earthenware, chipped. The voices are guttural, deep, with a counterpoint of Martha's shrill encouragement to eat, there is more - and to Mary to get up and help her. Jesus' voice is clear. She should stay.
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That wee lassie must be the younger sister - look: she's sat down on the floor. Martha's clearly stressed by all this clutter of visitors - she wants help. I don't blame the wee one, though. We can listen to Jesus all the time - she's snatching her chance. What a shame - now she's blushing, scrambling to her feet ... hey! He's put out a hand, he's stopping her going. Bit harsh, though, to say that - if Martha sat and listened too we'd all get no supper. There's no easy answer, but I'm glad there's someone willing to do the necessary.

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I want to listen. This is the most important moment in my entire life. I know Martha is trauchled, but... and I think one or two of these men think I should be serving them more. But when Jesus says I've chosen the better way I'm overcome - all the guilt evaporating in a burst of joy. Or is it smugness ...?

From Iona retreat, March 2014

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