Homilette for Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Jonah 3:1-10; Luke 10:38-42)

Giving a talk to Missionaries of Charity, the congregation Mother Teresa founded, will likely humble any priest aware of what is going on. The sisters place a chair in the center of the room for the priest and then sit on the floor around him. No doubt they see themselves as taking the posture of Mary listening to Jesus in the gospel today.

In the passage Jesus acts prophetically in a number of ways. First, he visits a woman’s home and then he allows a woman to sit at his feet. Rabbis do not take such liberties in biblical days for obvious reasons. But Jesus is in no way constrained by social customs neither to associate with women nor to have one in the position of his disciple. Indeed, he wants women must hear the gospel as well as men.

The great fourteenth century theologian Meister Eckhart saw Martha as Jesus’ disciple even more than Mary. He taught that where Mary only listens to the word of God as it comes from Jesus, Martha puts that word into practice by serving others. It’s a novel interpretation of the gospel but one which reinforces the idea that women as well as men express discipleship of Jesus in different ways.