Sunday’s Reflection: How do you live into your role as a disciple of Jesus? This Gospel story brings up a question of identity and roles. Martha accuses Mary not only of not helping to serve dinner—which is the duty of a woman—but for sitting at Jesus’ feet—which is the prerogative of a male disciple. Women were not permitted to receive religious instruction under the rabbinical law, but some nevertheless persisted. By sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to his religious teachings, Mary demonstrated bravery in transgressing the deep-seated prohibition of women in the role of disciple. And Jesus was complicit in the (righteous) transgression by allowing and then praising Mary for it. He doesn’t necessarily denounce the old ways, but gently affirms the new models.
Today we celebrate such stories in which Jesus allowed and invited women into his ministry and mission. But as Professor Walter Wink points out, how would the stories be received if Jesus had actively crossed into participating in a “woman’s role?” If he had helped Martha in the kitchen to prepare and serve the meal? Perhaps the examples Jesus gives of crossing societal boundaries are political statements not in that they promote crossing gender roles, but in that they prioritize the true meaning of his ministry—to listen, learn, and be changed by the Word of God. How do you live into your role as a disciple of Jesus? Examine what societal norms govern your life, especially around gender. What comes up?
Prayer: Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Sermons That Work – The Episcopal Church