From God's fullness we have all received, grace upon grace
Lectio Divina: “welcomed”

Lectio Divina: “welcomed”

Gospel reading: Luke 10.38-end

Now as they went on their way, [Jesus] entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’


Mary and Martha appear with their brother Lazarus in John’s Gospel, as well as here in Luke. The story of the raising of Lazarus tells of the differing responses of belief and disbelief that “the Jews” had to Jesus, and the corresponding fault-line between belief and disbelief down the middle of Martha. At one moment she is confessing Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of God” (as do Nathanael at the beginning and Thomas at the end of John’s Gospel; Peter’s confession appears only in Matthew, Mark and Luke). At the next, she is concerned about the stench of Lazarus’ dead body.

This passage displays the fault-line down the middle of Martha the contemplative and the active.

Martha welcomed Jesus into her home, which may imply that Martha is the head of the household, all the siblings are still quite young and Lazarus has not yet attained adulthood. Then later, Mary sits at Jesus’ feet as a disciple would to learn from a Rabbi. So both Martha and Mary are taking culturally male roles.

Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. I am welcoming Jesus into my home, to my hearth, into my heart. I have heard that the more you pray, the more you want to pray. It is true. The past few months of lockdown and enforced stability and simplicity have been a rich time of prayer and study for me. Now instead of needing to make time to pray, I find myself caught up in the prayer and needing to make time for work, chores, and people.

Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. Her tasks were necessary, and she let herself be caught up in them. My tasks are necessary too, but I have let myself be caught up in the prayer. There is a time for everything. Right now, sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening is “the better part”, and that is heartening. Equally as heartening is the simplicity of “there is need of only one thing”.

“One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.”

Psalm 27.4 (NRSV)


Since April 2020, I have been jointly hosting a shared Lectio Divina group on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. These are my reflections only, during the prayer session and as I wrote them up. Please see my separate commentary and leaflet for more information about shared Lectio.