Word Columns for July 22

This Sunday is the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Gospel reading from Luke recounts the story of Jesus’s encounter with the sisters Mary and Martha. Daniel Harrington writes that the "narrative...challenges us to balance practical action and contemplation. In the history of biblical interpretation, it has been customary to identify Martha with the active form of religious life and Mary with the contemplative form of religious life. But rather than limiting them to religious life and contrasting them as ’either...or,’ it might be better to view them as ’both...and.’ We all (religious and lay) need both contemplation and activity." In 2004 Dianne Bergant pointed out that, like Luke’s narrative, the Old Testamant story stresses the importance of hospitality. When travellers approach Abraham and Sarah’s tent, they are offered food and shelter: "The point of the story is captured in a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews: ’Do not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels’ (Heb 13:1)." Finbally in 2001 John R. Donahue reflected on the meaning of "welcome." That word, he argued, "is a somewhat pallid translation of one of the most important concepts in early Christianity. It suggests receiving people as guests, spending time with them, sharing life with them. The spread of Christianity was due to the welcome given traveling missionaries, and Paul (Rom. 14:1) urges that Christians welcome those of other views and practices." Tim Reidy, Online Editor

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