My grandmother died in 2005, on the eve of the feast of Saints Mary and Martha of Bethany. The next day I went to the weekday eucharist at St. James Cathedral in Chicago, and the story of Martha and her sister brought me instantly to tears. Like so many women of her generation (and not only hers), my grandmother was deeply identified with her hospitality and service. She was a lot like Martha, and I loved her for it.
I am more troubled now than I was then at the way this story is gendered in our reading.
On a busy day recently I pulled into a gas station and filled up my car’s gasoline tank. As I stood next to the car, I noticed that metallic stickers on the gas pump verified that the state department of weights and measures had tested the gasoline and approved its sale.