Driving through a suburban shopping centre last Thursday, I noticed a sign ‘Martha’s Diner’ and I immediately pondered, “Did Martha have such a sign in Bethany?” Her observation that she had no one to help her prepare the food would be echoed by many owners of hospitality venues today.
What we do know is that this house in Bethany was a place of hospitality.
Our readings ask us to ponder the importance of hospitality in our lives.
Paul picks up the great truth of the gospel, “The mystery is Christ among you”.
The encounter in Bethany is twofold. One, the importance of being invited in for the meal. The second, listening to what is happening at the meal.
Abraham prefigured this concept of meal. He prepared the ‘goodies’. He had help, Sarah. Then he remained standing near the guests under the tree, the great Oak of Mamre! The message he eventually received was of utmost importance to the ancient Patriarchal community; and is still the great desire in many societies today …
“Your wife will then have a son”.
Some sections of our society views things a little differently, though some couples still desire, greatly, to have a child.
Mary wished to hear the message. Years later, she and Martha must have pondered this particular meal and Paul’s statement, the Christ among them.
The meal today around the table, whether filled with homemade or take away, is still the place for the two encounters: receiving human hospitality and waiting the fullness of divine abundance.
How we translate this to Sunday Eucharist is still the big challenge. Judas missed the message, Thomas took some time, the rest started to gather with the other Mary and slowly, but surely, received the Word.
So, too, for us.
Let us enter the open door on Sunday and, like Mary, patiently await the revelation of “the rich glory of this mystery”.