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Gospel: Luke 10:38-42

38Now as [Jesus and his disciples] went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Luke is using mealtime in his Gospel to help us to understand something very important about Jesus. When Jesus is present, the feast celebrating God's reign begins. When Jesus is present, it is clear that nothing else matters. Jesus is not the guest to be served. He is the Host above all hosts. Our preparations, our meals become nothing. His meal is what matters. And his meal is not just his teaching, but also his doing, his dying and rising, his giving himself into the suffering and hungers of this world to overcome them. This is the "one thing" that is needful. It is not in being a good hostess that Martha has missed the boat. It is failing to recognize Jesus as the greater Host.

Suddenly, now, the application for us becomes apparent. When we gather for our community meal, worship around the presence of Christ in word and meal, our preparations and attention to detail are not unimportant, but become subordinate to the one around whom we gather. He is not only the guest in our midst, in the form of every person whom we as a community must serve, he is also host and healer. He grants forgiveness and life to all, beyond our worries and distractions. We are freed to see his living word that God's reign has broken into our world as the only needful thing. Every other good gift flows from this primary promise of life.

When we read this story we miss all of this if all we see is a choice between being the "busy" Martha or the "learning" Mary. We fail to see Jesus as guest become Host. We will surely fail to see him as Host around our family tables and our worship gatherings as well. When people have asked me over the years why they should go to church, I have found only one answer that satisfies: because Jesus is going to be there, giving life! This is why I return week after week. This is why I feel incomplete if I miss a Sunday. Because Jesus is there!

Now, be careful! Jesus, present, will not only offer healing and new life, but also will change us. Our own ways, our own plans, our own meals will give way to his. He will challenge us to be God's children. He will challenge us to take up his mission and follow his cross to Jerusalem. He will offer us no peace until the world is united in God's Peace and Justice. He will feed us with his mission and send us into a world where his followers are never safe. Be careful! To meet Jesus as guest and Host is to offer one's life into serving God's new reign for a lifetime. Yet, nothing else will satisfy the hungers within us. Jesus' meal, himself the feast, is the only thing that will do.

Let us pray: Almighty God, we give thanks for your Son, the Host. May we recognize Him once again in the breaking of the bread. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen

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