Exodus 20:1-17; Matthew 13:18-23
Today’s gospel reading would not require a homily or an online reflection, once Jesus has taken the time and effort to explain the meaning of the parable. What can one say after that? There is not much room for second-guessing Jesus, but there is room for some reflection on the seed itself that fell on the best soil.
“Mary . . . sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching.”
This story of Mary and Martha is commonly used to preach that a life of contemplation is equally as valuable as a life of active service. While that may be true, that’s almost certainly not the point of this episode. If we were to have lived in the first century Eastern Mediterranean culture, we would have found this story profoundly unsettling. There are two points that would offend us. First, women’s world was not in the company of unrelated males. They were in a separate sphere which, among other things, served the men (thus Martha’s “help me with the serving”).
Matthew describes two sorts of people. Who am I?
Sometimes I belong to the crowd. We stream after what is new or even hideous. We hear but do not listen. We have seen it all. There are no real surprises. Enthusiasm annoys us. We don’t expect much. Just distraction, styles, more information. Fill us up, so the emptiness is not too noticeable. Headlines get us through the day. A world crisis helps us to focus. Otherwise we drift, absorbed by the tapes that keep running. How odd to be always together and yet so much alone.