The pot hit the floor with a resounding crash. Loud enough for everyone in the courtyard to hear. Even as I picked up a cloth, I knew it was my fault. After wiping the spilt olive oil from my robe, I bent down to pick up the olives. Mother always said I had a temper, especially with my sister. As usual, I was in the cooking area preparing the meal while she found another way to escape. She knew what I had to do, but she was such a scatterbrain and unable to concentrate on one job long enough to finish it. Who was it who invited him into our home for a meal? It was me and I should have been the one listening to him, not her.
That momentous day began very much as it always had. I awoke before dawn, drew water from the well, ground corn to make flour for the day’s bread, fed the chickens, collected the eggs and made breakfast. The sun was almost at its height when I picked up the broom to sweep the ashes from around the oven. I opened the gate and swept the dust out into the street as two boys ran past.
“He’s here!” one boy shouted.
“He’s come to our village.” The other boy turned around to call before he too ran towards the crowds.
The usual sleepiness of Bethany was shattered by cheering and shouting villagers. I leaned the broom by the gate and there he was, standing in front of me. His deep brown eyes looked directly into my own.
“It’s nearly the hottest part of the day, you’re welcome to come into my home where it’s cool. You may rest while I will make you some refreshments.” My words took me by surprise, being spoken before I thought them.
“Thank you, Martha,” he replied. I wondered how he knew my name when I hadn’t not told him. Ashamed that he might see the broom leaning on the gate, I picked it up, and he smiled as I hid it behind my back. Then for the first time, Rabbi Jesus walked into my house.
Leaving Bethany has all the elements of a good story: sufficient archaeologically authenticated facts for a believable narrative in its socio-historical 1st Century setting, and plenty of imagination in the presentation of characters in whose lives we see ours reflected. Making mistakes, learning as we go, sharing such things as emotions, fears, sadness, joys and dreams, we find aspects of our own stories mirrored in those of the Gospel story family of Martha and her two siblings, Lazarus and Mary, who in their home village of Bethany, situated within walking distance to Jerusalem, provided hospitality on a regular basis to the itinerant Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, and his close disciples.
Lucy, Sydney Australia