Eating the Book: Luke 10:25-42
25 A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”
26 Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?”
27 He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
28 Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”
29 But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. 31 Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 32 Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. 33 A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. 34 The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ 36 What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?”
37 Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
38 While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. 40 By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.”
41 The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42 One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”
(Common English Bible)
“worried and distracted”
I feel embarrassed and a bit discouraged at how often I play the part of “Martha” rather than “Mary.” Worried and distracted stand out to me and make me think about a posture that I too often have held in ministry. For me, the demands and activities of ministry life easily consume much time and energy. And because I like to do well and provide for others in ways they find beneficial, I spend a good amount of time worried and distracted.
I love the way Jesus asks this question (in the midst of his rabbinic answer-questions-with-a-question technique). It is a question that invites response but also participation and investment. Jesus encourages engagement with God’s Story, and trusts us to do this. Sure, we can be corrected when necessary. But I see here an encouragement to think deeply about the scripture and do the work of interpretation (which leads ultimately to action) in community. Sometimes I notice a negative reaction to the work of interpreting scripture. “Don’t interpret-just let the Word speak” or “Just keep it simple.” But if we refuse to take Jesus’ invitation and go deeper, what might we risk losing?
“who was on a journey”
Thinking right now of all the different journeys I am on. The journey of parenting. The journey of marriage. The journey with a congregation. The journey of seminary. The journey of cancer treatment & recovery. I sense an opportunity to notice where I can extend mercy, at any time, while on these journeys.
“chosen the better part”
I am noticing the invitation to choose. Jesus does not force me to do something or to live a particular way. “[Choosing] the better part” is upheld and encouraged by Christ, which feels good. Yet this also means I am responsible for my choices. This phrase feels like one that could stick with me throughout the day as I encounter people, choices, or situations where mercy or a listening posture would be welcome elements.