In a time when inns or restaurants or fast food places weren’t around, travelers had to rely on the hospitality of strangers when they journeyed far from home. An upright person would be expected to provide for a traveler’s needs at a moments notice. Abraham and Sarah fulfill this expectation and then some when they see three strangers outside their tent and insist they eat and rest. Though they had never seen these travelers before, their faith taught them to see the presence of the Lord in all people. And so it was that the presence of God (the Trinity) was manifested when they welcomed them with hospitality.
It would appear in our Gospel reading that Martha is trying to show that same hospitality when welcoming Jesus into her home. She is serving him, and presumably cooking and preparing the meal as well. So why does Jesus not support her when she complains that her sister is not helping? Perhaps he is trying to teach her that there is more to hospitality than providing food and drinks. Martha was attentive to Jesus’ physical needs, but Mary was attentive to Jesus’ mission and emotional needs. This, clearly, is “the better part.” Today, we are offered the better part, invited to listen to the Lord as we share in the meal he himself provides.
Love, Peace, Joy,