In today’s world, there always seems to be so much going on—it is overwhelming. It becomes hard to notice the undramatic and simple acts of love. Today’s reading from the Gospel of John feels that way to me. There is so much happening in the story that features so many known characters, it feels chaotic and confusing.
We learn that Lazarus was raised from the dead and is a threat because he is evidence of the credibility of Jesus. Mary, who simply reclined at Jesus’ feet in Luke’s Gospel, makes an extravagant gesture that Jesus approves because it is an act of preparation for his death. Judas, who will betray Jesus, appears to express concern for the poor in his admonition of Mary’s action but is revealed by the narrator to be a thief. And then there are the chief priests plotting to kill not just Jesus but Lazarus as well. Martha is presented in Luke as the sister who complains. Here she fades quietly into the background as all that is said about her is that “Martha served.”Something about the quiet and undramatic service she offers is inviting, in this scene with so much going on. She calls to mind the God who came to Elijah on the mountain not as a strong wind, earthquake, or fire but as a “still small voice.” She brings us back to the suffering servant in today’s first reading who does not draw attention to himself yet “establishes justice on the earth.”
- How are you being called to unassuming, quiet service as you enter this most holy of weeks to make God present amid the chaos of our world?
- Who are those around you who are quietly doing transformative work for your community and our world?
Catherine Punsalan-Manlimos is Vice President for Mission Integration and Professor in Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University. She has been in Jesuit Higher Education for over 30 years beginning her career at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.