SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME: JULY 21, 2013. YEAR OF ST. LUKE.
Mass Readings for this Sunday: GOSPEL: LUKE 10:38-42. First Reading is from Genesis 18:1-10. Second Reading is from Colossians 1:24-28. Click here for Mass Readings, or find them in your own Bible or Sunday Missal.
‘The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory.’ (Colossians 1:27)
‘Well, you’re welcome! You are well come to this place, to this house. Make yourself at home,- you’re in your Granny’s!’
A warm welcome is always good to get,- when you know that your arrival brings joy to the home you are visiting. There’s a warmth, an embrace, a kiss of welcome. Maybe even a bear-hug!
Well, today’s readings are all about welcome, about receiving guests into your home and into your life.
There’s Jesus, welcomed into the home of Lazarus and Martha and Mary. It was his favourite house, his hide-away, when he was in or near Jerusalem. They loved him, and he loved them. ‘See how he loved him’ said the neighbours when they saw Jesus weeping, near the grave of Lazarus, later on. ‘Jesus wept’,- the shortest sentence in the Bible. But that was later.
Martha welcomes him by being busy preparing the meal and the table. Mary welcomes him by sitting down with him, and being glued to his every word. Both loved him, each in her own way. And Mary’s listening heart was praised by Jesus, while he gently teased Martha saying (to us, too): ‘Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one.’ And yet, they would all have been hungry if they left it to Mary. They’d be still waiting! And so, there’s need for a balance,- a time for busyness, and a time for quiet, a ‘sabbath’ time, the Jews would call it, when you down tools and spend time with the Master. How’s our ‘sabbath time’ in each day? Do we offer some of God’s time back to God, in stillness? Contemplation is made up of 3 Latin words,- Con (with), Tempus (time), and (ob)latio- an offering,- or, The offering of Time With. That’s what Mary prepared for Jesus, what she place before him as gift,- her stillness and presence, offered to the Master. We can each of us do the same, in the course of even the busiest day, to stop a while and be still with the LORD. (By the way, Martha comes into her own later in St. John’s Gospel Chapter 11, when she she makes her great act of faith ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into the world.’ (John 11:27) )
And what about Abraham, and his Guests? ‘The LORD appeared to Abraham at the oak of Mamre’, while Abe was sitting at the entrance to the tent in the hottest time of the day. ‘He looked up and saw three men standing near him.’ These three men are three messengers (‘angels’) from God,- God appears to Abraham in the guise of these three strangers. And Abraham makes a big fuss in welcoming them,- or rather, he hurries to Sarah, his wife, and gets her to do all the work of preparation, while he takes care of his guest(s). They get the ‘full Irish breakfast’ (Jewish, in this case!) treatment, -nothing spared. And Abraham knows that it is the LORD who has in fact appeared to him.
Two stories of Welcome, of being well come to the house of our hearts and our community, are for us this day. If the Trinity comes to us, if Jesus comes to us, how ‘well’ is our welcome? Do we lay the table of our hearts before God? ‘If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and sit down at table with them.’ (Revelations 3: 20)
‘The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory’. (Second Reading, from Colossians 1:24-28)
‘The Hospitality of Abraham’ by Andrei Rublev: Andrei Rublev, a Russian, wrote the Icon of the Trinity, as it is now called, or more correctly ‘The Hospitality of Abraham’,- depicting the three angels at the table of Abraham, with the oak of Mamre in the background. The icon of the Trinity was painted around 1410 by Andrei Rublev (known as St. Andrei Rublev).
Andrei Rublev was born circa 1360. He died on January 29, 1430 and is buried at the Andronikov Monastery in Moscow .
The image is full of symbolism – designed to take the viewer into the Mystery of the Trinity.
An icon is not a painting in the sense we normally regard pieces of art, although it is an image that is painted. An icon is a window out of the obvious realities of everyday life into the realm of God. Every paint-stroke has a meaning hallowed by centuries of prayer. Icons are religious images that hover between two worlds, putting into colors and shapes what cannot be grasped by the intellect. Rendering the invisible visible. Icons are the visual equivalents of the Divine Scriptures. Not every religious painting can be considered an icon. Icons are religious pictures that convey inner spiritual meaning of their subject matter. The Son of God came to restore the divine image in human form. Iconography is the graphic witness to this restoration.
This icon takes as its subject the mysterious story where Abraham receives three visitors as he camps by the oak of Mamre. He serves them a meal. As the conversation progresses he seems to be talking straight to God, as if these ‘angels’ were in some way a metaphor for the three persons of the Trinity. In Rublev’s representation of the scene, the three gold-winged figures are seated around a white table on which a golden, chalice-like bowl contains a roasted lamb. In the background of the picture, a house can be seen at the top left and a tree in the center. Less distinctly, a rocky hill lies in the upper right corner. The composition is a great circle around the table, focusing the attention on the chalice-bowl at the center, which reminds the viewer inescapably of an altar at Communion.
On one level this picture shows three angels seated under Abraham’s tree, but on another it is a visual expression of what the Trinity means, what is the nature of God, and how we approach him. Reading the picture from left to right, we see the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are seated around a table. The tree of Life is in the background. We see the bowl in the centre, and the hand of Christ reaching towards it,- the dish of the Eucharist. There is an opening at the front, inviting all God’s people to enter in and be part of this table of the Trinity, this communion of the Trinity.
Google YouTube for more about his icon: