“Man does not live by bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

In our Old Testament reading we encounter the theme of hospitality. Hospitality has been important for many cultures across many years. St Paul talks of hospitality as a gift of the Spirit. Many argue that Sodom’s greatest sin was a sin against hospitality.

For the people of God they have the words of God echoing in their ear: “Remember that you were a stranger, an alien in a foreign land.” As God had been generous to them, they must be generous to others. Also, those who have shown hospitality to the stranger may well have entertained angels without knowing it. This is exactly what Abraham finds himself doing, providing hospitality for three visiting angels. His hospitality becomes a blessing for him with the promise of Sarah bearing a child by the following year.

In the light of this tradition, maybe we can have some sympathy with Martha as she rushes around trying to play the good host to those who were visiting. Many identify with Martha in the busyness of their lives and many might say we have too few ‘Marthas’- those willing to serve, clean, read and welcome. If we are short of ‘Marthas’ how many ‘Marys’ do we really have? You see Mary wasn’t just along for the ride. Mary was equally active in her participation but in a different way to Martha. Jesus’ gentle humour in response to Martha highlights the real danger of being Martha-like. We can be so busy about the work for the Kingdom of God that we miss the invitation that Jesus the King makes. He offers his hospitality to a banquet of spiritual food that feeds us in preparation for eternal life: “Every word that comes from the mouth of God.” How easy it is to be busy in prayer without times of silence to listen! How often do we take time to prayerfully read the scriptures? It’s all too easy to think if I am not actively involved in the mass, if I am not busy within it, I am somehow not present or don’t even need to be here. In so doing, we miss Jesus’ invitation to participate in a different way to hear his invitation to feed on heavenly food as he makes himself present in the mass, to sit at his feet, to hear his word and to receive him in this most blessed of sacraments.

Let our physical activity arise out of our time spent sitting at the feet of Jesus, not at the expense of it. “Indeed man does not live on bread alone but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Jesus is that Word made present for us in the Mass.