CACINA

Homily July 21, 2013 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Posted in christian, Christianity, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on July 18, 2013

The story of Martha and Mary in Luke is an interesting story that probably was written in early church times when discussion of women’s place in the church was a big issue. In that first century, society was very male dominated and the women were kept separate and even worshiped separated from the men. They were in many ways seen as property and servants. We know that among the early Christians the women had an equal voice in the assembly and taught and had ministries. Even Paul taught equality in his writings until a later insertion was added that women should be silent. greene_nathan_martha_and_mary_small
The complaints of Martha would seem to highlight and underline the traditional role and function of women to serve and prepare for the men. Mary remains at Jesus’ feet and listens to his teaching with the men. This from the gospels was not uncommon for among the people following Jesus many were women. The whole story points to the inclusion of women in listening and sharing ministry rather than the later concept of a contemplative life versus an active life being taken from the story. In fact, Jesus did both in His time when He took time out to pray and meditate and also had a very active ministry. Martha, while probably hard pressed in her preparing to serve the many guests in her house, was I think a symbol of a beginning of a hierarchy and compartmentalization of roles which are still present today in many ways.
I am thankful that in recent times our church has come to see the reality of Church guided by the Spirit with a ministry and membership enabling all to serve in whatever capacity that God calls them to serve according to their talents and abilities and not their gender. In fact, we are one body all called to be united in Jesus Christ and love and serve one another. All are called to follow and did he not say that in his kingdom there is neither male or female? Do we not all receive the same Spirit? It is ironic that we forget that the Spirit leads and nourishes. He prepares and makes us ready. Our world and cultures have taken so long to come to an understanding of so many things especially of the role of women. However the promptings have always been there, only now has the listening begun. Like Mary we all are chosen to listen, but also like Martha, we are called to also serve.