Blogging toward Sunday

July 16, 2007

The gospel gets domestic as Jesus—who is homeless, without a job,
traveling from place to place, and looking for a free meal—intrudes
into the home of two unmarried women.

Wonder of wonders, they
welcome this itinerant rabbi into the inner sanctum of their home. Once
again Jesus is breaking the boundaries, pushing at the limits; once
again there are a few who are willing to risk welcoming and hosting
this Jesus. After all, it’s invariably a discomforting experience when
he pushes his way into your living room or your kitchen. When one dares
to welcome Jesus as a guest, things get surprising.

As soon
as he has settled in on the sofa he assumes his usual confrontational
style. He has the nerve to criticize Martha for her work in the kitchen
even as she is trying to fix him a meal. Then he praises Mary for
choosing the “better part,” namely taking the role of student—not a
traditional role for women. He is turning everything upside down.

On
his way to his costly work in Jerusalem, Jesus has paused for an
evening with these two women. Whatever work he is doing, he has decided
to do that work with the two of them. He disrupts the home—a place of
refuge, retreat and renewal. Then he claims the home—where two women
work and care for the needs of each other—as space where he cares for
them. He seeks out, speaks to and instructs women, who are often
relegated to the private space of the home, confined within the
boundaries of domesticity. He treats them as full-fledged disciples,
giving them himself and his teaching without reserve.

I’m
confident that Luke means this to be a story that reveals much about
Jesus’ nature and his mission. Still, the story also has implications
for us. To be a disciple of Jesus, one must not only leave the dead to
bury the dead and move out without regard to the folks back home (last
Sunday’s gospel) but also be willing to risk, to open one’s door,
sometimes in the middle of the night, and let Jesus into the living
room.

For this Sunday then, here’s a definition of a
Christian disciple: A Christian is anyone with the guts to open his
door and let Jesus in, to listen to Jesus even when he criticizes the
way the Christian spends his time. A Christian is anyone willing to be
mystified by Jesus, to stay with Jesus, and to let Jesus work within
him.