When I reflect on Luke’s Gospel Reading of today, I imagine myself in the position of two of the individuals –Martha and Mary. I think that most of you who are reading this reflection have read, reflected, and known this Gospel story for all your lives. For me, every time I read or heard it, I’ve always immediately imagined myself in the Martha role. I would think – “…but someone has to do the work. Someone has to do the concrete tasks of hospitality. Someone has to do the cooking, the carrying of water, the housecleaning, etc.” And, I would continue reflecting, “Given Christ’s response, is this a fair distribution of time and energy?”
For this writing, I imagined myself as Mary. And, perhaps, for the first time, I recognized and came to really value the greater gift of hospitality she was transmitting. She was present. She was in the moment. She was engaged. She was being, not doing.
This Gospel Reading has such a strong message for us in late 2009 in this technology world where there are too many cell phones, Blackberries, I-pods, and many more devices that are barriers to each of us “being in the moment with the other.” Many of you, as you read this, can instantly visualize the numbers of meetings you attend where professional adults are busy sending or checking their latest email. For those of us who teach, we know the classroom world of students behind computer screens and with their texting devices. We eat in restaurants and watch a table of four people conversing – not with each other but each talking to someone else on their cell phone. And, the list continues of not being present to the other in the moment.
During our early morning coffee times with certain friends, Chuck frequently talks about the importance of ‘being present’ and of the many altars in life where we find Christ. The altar is more than a wooden, bamboo or stone structure found in many churches globally. For most of us, everyday, the altar is composed of the multitude of encounters we have with people, with the Christ in each of them. Chuck told a story of his ‘being present’ with a stranger as they waited for a law office to open and the difference it made in both of their lives. Courtney told of ‘being present’ with a patient bleeding to death. They both understood and practiced hospitality and the ability to recognize altars in their daily lives where Christ is.
Today, will you be Martha or Mary? Will you be engaged, present, and in the moment with others? Tonight, as you do a reflection of how your day went, which altars will you have been at?
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook