Reflection Sunday 17 July

Readings: Gen 18:1-10; Luke 10:38-42

How do we encounter God? And how does God encounter us? 

Such questions are wrapped up in today’s readings. In the first reading, Abraham is hospitable to the LORD who appeared as three enigmatic strangers. As a consequence of this hospitality Sarah is promised a child. While Judaism is fiercely monotheistic it is not the first time that God takes on plural form [Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness;’ (Gen 1:26); see also Gen 3:22: Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil;’].

The exchange between Abraham and the LORD is marked artistically by Andrei Rublev and his icon. Art forms such as iconography are another way God encounters us and we encounter God.

Today’s Gospel brings us the characters of Martha and Mary. This is another example of the value of digging a little deeper into the Scriptures. On face value, Jesus tells Martha off. Mary has the ‘better part’ of being in the presence of Jesus. So the story can be extended to the importance of prayer and contemplation in one’s life. A different reading acknowledges that we each have Martha and Mary within us: the part that needs to act and the part that needs to be connected to God. The trick is finding the balance – so that our action is guided by prayer. Thus wholeness and holiness. In this way God can encounter us both through our prayer and through our action.

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