Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
Martha welcomed Jesus into her house. Mary has chosen the better part.
The Word This Week
Sacred Hospitality is our theme: as the letter to the Hebrews says: remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this some people have entertained angels without knowing it. True hospitality lies in two things: first the welcome, encouraging the stranger to enter the house and be at home there: secondly, the gift - not just of food or drink, but of time: listening to the stranger, and giving of ourselves to them. This is what makes hospitality costly, but holy, and a true service of Jesus Christ.
Notes for Readers
This is the scene pictured in Andrei Rublevs famous icon of the Trinity - the three angels sat round a table under the Oak of Mamre. While the story is on one level very simple, it has deeper messages. As a reader, all you have to worry about is telling the story as well as you can. In telling the story, make sure you bring out Abrahams enthusiasm - his hospitality is not grudging or reluctant - notice that he runs from the tent to meet the strangers. Then again, he hastens to find Sarah, and runs to the cattle. There is a breathless energy about the whole of this section - try to capture it, without garbling words and sentences. There should be a big pause before the final paragraph, since that marks a complete change in the story: Abraham has been giving, now he is to receive: try to make the break in both your timing and tone of voice. Be very emphatic with the words of the guest - slow down completely for this, as this promise to Abraham was one of the great turning points of the story of the Old Testament, and is very significant.
Be careful not to take the tone of this reading from the first sentence: even though Paul mentions his sufferings, that is not what he is trying to emphasise here: what he is talking about is the mystery of Christ - something hidden for centuries, but now revealed to the saints and the pagans. The meaning of this revealing the mystery is so that everyone can be perfect in Christ. Notice how certain words and phrases jump out of the reading - identifying these will help give shape to your reading, and not leave it flat: the phrase hidden for generation and centuries stands out, as does rich glory of this mystery. Be very careful of those sentences where Paul jumps from one concept to the next - sometimes by repeating a word (message in line 5, this is in line 9) - dont see these as separate phrases, but as logical steps, each resting on the one before.