SERVICE. SMILES. SERIOUSNESS. STUDY


16th Sunday Year C
July 21, 2013

SERVICE. SMILES. SERIOUSNESS. STUDY

Abraham was not one to miss an opportunity. Seeing three men on their way towards some place else, Abraham saw the chance of a lifetime to offer some welcome and winsome service with a smile. And then some … rolls and some meat; curds and some milk … The guests surely were well provided.

Martha and Mary sure knew their places. Both did not pass off an opportunity as it came their way … in the person of their friend Jesus, whom Martha, by the way, called “Lord!” The “Lord” merited some five-star quality service. This, Martha gave “gratis et amore.” The same “Lord” surely was worthy of some serious attention and personal care. This, Mary did, by sitting down right next to the Lord’s ottoman chair, gracious and generous with her listening ears, as she was gracious and winsome in her heart.

Abraham and Sarah did their best to offer service and hospitality to the unexpected guests. Martha and Mary each had a way to make their guest feel important and needed, and definitely welcome. All four had a style. They pampered their guests with the best they had. Abraham had his “tender, choice steer,” curds and fresh milk to boot, and even “waited on them under the tree while they ate.” Martha showed her culinary and administrative skills, and lost no time putting her pots and pans to good use, and her long-lost recipes resurrected to life. Mary, on the other hand, lost precious time gracefully with the Lord, listening to Him intently, solely, with focus and passion – and, one more time – with feeling!

The three of them served with panache! And the fourth provided welcome with passion!

Who says the Lord can be approached and served in only one particular way? Who says that the Lord only wants service, and that He cares not much for anything that does not go beyond a five-star quality meal?

In our times, there are two extreme types of people … those who say they believe in God and spend all their time doing godly things, good things, worthy things – ostensibly for God, yes, but not necessarily on account of a God they personally are related to. Yet, there, too, are those who spend all their time in religious things, those who do nothing but engage in holy things, pious stuff, spiritual concerns, but for whom all other worldly concerns do not count for much. The former are definitely attuned to the world and contemporary reality, but never attached to a personal God. The latter, on the other hand, can be, and may be attached, but never attuned to the God they think they relate to.

I, too, can be an activist, and engage more than just pots and pans, and even fields and farms to do good. But if I am not attached to a personal God, all that activism is nothing more than a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal. I, too, can be a pietistic prayerful person, and boast about being attached, but if I have no love either that shows in action, I am equally what the other one is – another noisy gong and a clanging cymbal.

All four individuals in the readings did hospitality. But real welcome and hospitality is given by one who can recognize their guest for who he is … who, then, does justice and who, then, can live in the presence of the Lord!

Abraham saw more in the three men. They were more than just lost and weary travellers expecting a bed for the night and food for sustenance of body and soul. They stood for someone higher, someone greater, someone as deeply mysterious as God who would later reveal Himself to be one in three – Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

This is the same God that Paul saw and knew first hand – “God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past,”now “manifested to his holy ones” … “the Christ in you, the hope for glory.”

What does one do before a presence so august, so sublime, so real, so near and yet so far, so real, and so invisible to many? How does one behave in His presence, in His coming-in-flesh in our midst?

Let us all do an Abraham and a Sarah! Out with the best the house can offer! Choice meat, and the best curds and milk. Everything’s on the house! This is hospitality at its best. Service galore to the utmost and the highest! Let us all do a Martha and offer service – five star excellent service! But let us all do a Mary, too, and offer that same service with a smile and some seriousness for the long haul – some spiritual nourishment, replenishment for the heart and soul as much for the body.

Service, yes! … and a plus that is more than Google Plus+ --- service and a smile, service plus serious study and reflection that is worthy of a faith in Him that “comes from hearing!” Attunement, yes, and attachment, too! … to a God with us, a God come-in-flesh, a God-wth-us.

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