Mary, Martha, and the Only Meal Jesus Cooked (Lectionary Meditation)

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Lectionary 10C — Luke 10:38-42

Jesus spent his entire life talking about meals, presiding over meals, and distributing them. He ate enough to be accused of being a glutton and received enormous hospitality from a variety of homes. In fact, he made receiving hospitality a central tenet of his disciples’ sending and an icon for trust in God’s abundance through others.

But for all the talk of meals and all the actual eating of them, he never seems to cook them.

In all the gospels, Jesus is seen cooking in only one story.

He’s on the beach, calling his disciples in from the water, cooking them a simple breakfast over a charcoal fire. There are holes in his hands as he skins and cleans the fish, holes in his feet as he stirs the fading coals to life.

Because cooking apparently is a resurrection activity.

He once told Martha that Mary had chosen the better portion by sitting at his feet and listening to his teaching, but in the resurrection, Jesus chose to embody Martha’s portion — to cook for others — for the first time recorded in the gospels.

In moments of whimsy, I like to think that on Holy Saturday, after he descended into death and destroyed hell, he maybe went by Martha’s house to pick up a recipe or two and some ingredients — salt and herbs — to bring with him to the beach. And, as Martha was wont to do as a hospitable householder, she welcomed him into her kitchen, sat him down at her feet, and taught him how to cook.

And if they shared a meal together that day, I’d wager she gave him the bigger portion.

Image Credit: Cooking by Moyan Brenn/Flickr, Creative Commons

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