Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Just as the first audience of yesterday’s parable would have been taken aback by the example of a merciful Samaritan (the Samaritans were normally viewed by ancient Hebrews as schismatic worshipers of God and so as enemies), so today’s reading from Jonah would have been quite counter-intuitive to its first hearers. Nineveh was the capital of ancient Assyria, the empire which conquered the Kingdom of Israel and exiled its inhabitants, thus creating the first Jewish diaspora. To imagine that at the first cry of a Hebrew prophet, the capital of such an empire would completely repent of its evil-doing is, to say the least, hard for one to imagine. And yet, such is the image which the first reading places before us this day. It impresses upon us that even through a reluctant prophet, God can work amazing deeds. How does this allow us to better understand today’s Gospel?
Do we not sympathize with Martha? She does seem to be the reasonable one in the house that day. Since a guest has come, a lot of things need to get ready, and she cannot do it all by herself. Yet, her sister, rather than helping to serve Christ who has come to visit, simply sits at His feet and listens as He speaks. Mary seems to Martha (and to many of us) to have chosen not the better part, but the wrong part. In the face of all of our expectations and assumptions fly the words of Christ: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.” (Lk 10:41-42) Though counter-intuitive, the words are true. Let us allow these words of our Lord to sink into our hearts. Let us repeat them throughout the day. May they work in us a change of heart. What am I anxious about today? What would it look like for me to surrender those worries to the Lord? Listen to the Lord. Ask Him about the one thing necessary. Let Him give you that peace needed to bear the good fruit He wants you to bear.