Sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him!

Weekly Missionary Reflection
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 17 July 2022

Gen. 18:1-10a; Ps. 15:2-3ab,3cd-4ab,5; Col. 1:24-28; Luk. 10:38-42

This is one of  Luke’s famous short stories. The main characters are two women, who are named: Martha and Mary. This is uncommon, as in general female characters are left anonymous in Gospel stories. As we know, in Luke’s time women were thought of as second-class citizens. But why did Luke make an exception? Because both are equally qualified! But, Isn’t that Jesus obviously commended Mary and criticized Martha? Yes, He did,  but what was Jesus actually “fighting for”? We are sometimes trapped in comparing. Humans are fond of comparing beauty, wealth, intellectuality, fame, etc. From comparing to competing, harassing each other, looking down on each other, isolating each other, and so on. This story is also mostly read as the story of the competition between two women: one is busy in the kitchen serving guests, and the other one just sits down listening to the Teacher. Two types of discipleship are contrasted: devotion vs service, action vs contemplation, word vs prayer, etc. Let’s take a moment to change the setting and reading lens.

Martha is a model of hospitality. In accordance to the meaning of her name,  “Madam”, Martha initiated to receive Jesus at her home. Remember, Jesus and His disciples were on their journey. For the itinerant Preacher and His disciples who were weary from a long journey, Martha’s hospitality was invaluable. Martha was busy working to serve the Lord. Paying respect to the guest is highly important in those days: the guest is king, even God (cf. first reading). Then, why did Jesus criticize Martha? Jesus did not criticize her hospitality and service, instead, Jesus disagreed with her self-image: a woman is not just a servant, who is busy in the kitchen serving the guest. Jesus would like to promote a new image and role for women.

Mary becomes the model of the new role, an example of a female disciple. A Jewish Rabbi was not allowed to receive a female disciple. Studying the law was the duty of the men only. Mary had broken this unbalanced old rule. Mary dared to choose a new task and role, sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to Him. This is the proper position and attitude of a disciple. A disciple should first listen and word doer. This is the best part. Hospitality, busyness, and accommodation for the Gospel Preacher are important, but they must flow out of the personality of the Gospel listener. Women have the same right as men in being the disciple of Jesus. This is certainly uncommon in the context of Jesus and the first Church time. Discipleship discrimination might be still happening now. Women are limited to certain positions and roles in the Church. They are still treated unequally. Discipleship of equals is our homework. Do not let the old viewpoint and mentality take root, that prison the women to do house chores and serve the male guests! Jesus is criticizing Martha and us if we still live with that old mentality and viewpoint. Men and women are equal in having the right to choose the best role for themselves, that is: sitting at the feet of the Teacher, listening, and doing His words. That is our position and identity as His disciples, both men, and women.

(Hortensius Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society)


Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy, and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit animating Jesus, also be my guidance and strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the Church, in particular, I present my prayer for our Pope and apostle prayer of Indonesian Church this month:

For Universal Churches: Respecting the legacy of the elderly
We pray for the elderly; unto them, we can revive the living root and valuable legacy; may their experience and wisdom be able to assist the youth to face their future with full hope and responsibility.

For Indonesian Churches’ intention: For the anxiety of the youth
May the Church pay special attention to the youth who are depressed, anxious, losing hope and direction for their future due to the impact of this pandemic.


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