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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Hospitality (02/07/05)

TITLE: True Hospitality
By Barbie Jones


Martha leaned on her broom and watched the men who sat huddled shoulder to shoulder with eyes closed and heads bowed as the Rabbi bless the food. Her sister stood behind her and whispered, “Jesus is going to speak after dinner Sister. Do you think he will allow us to sit in?”

Martha scoffed, “Sit in… us? I suppose we should just walk in there and sit at the Master’s feet. We have far too much work to do Sister.”

Mary looked with longing at the group of men then smiled and playfully tweaked her sister’s cheek. “We can work after they leave Sister. He’s leaving town tomorrow and may not be back to visit us for awhile.”

Lazarus called out to his sisters interrupting Martha’s reply. “Sisters, we are parched. Come. Bring us water. Come quickly, do not dawdle.”

Mary and Martha looked wide-eyed at each other. Lazarus was behaving as if he was King and they were his slaves. Both women smiled but Martha spoke first. “Sister, are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Mary hid her smile behind her hands and nodded. She looked from one sibling to the other and said, “Yes, what we did the last time he ordered us around. We shouldn’t Sister, Jesus may not see the humor in our response.”

Martha nodded slowly. “You’re right. We should not embarrass Lazarus in front of the Teacher and his friends. Come, let us be dutiful sisters and take water to the men.”

Mary whispered, “We may not be able to pull our joke on Brother, but I can still imagine the water running down his beard and the shocked look on his face the first time we doused him with water, that’s good enough for now.”

Martha giggled too. “Yes. You would think he would have learned not use that tone of voice with us by now.”

Mary shook her head and said, “He’s trying too hard to impress the disciples. Did you see the look Jesus gave him? He will probably scold him once they are alone together.”

Martha gave the water pitcher to Mary. “Here you take it. I’m still too tempted to not only pour the water over his head, but hit him with the pitcher.” At the surprised look on her sister’s face she continued, “Oh don’t pretend as if you never thought of it. I am sick of being stuck here in this kitchen. I too would like to listen to the teachings of Jesus.”

“Why don’t you then? The last time Jesus was here he told you that you were too concerned with your duty as hostess.” Mary asked.

“Yes, I know. I cleaned while you chose that which was most important, his teachings. You don’t understand Mary, I want his teachings, but showing hospitality is very important me also. I still hope to marry someday.”

Lazarus called out this time in a more cordial tone, “Sisters, can you not bring water to thirsty men? Supper is delicious, but we are in need of water.”

As if on cue, Mary stepped from around the corner with her head bowed and eyes lowered demurely. She glanced once at the Rabbi and bowed. He acknowledged her and bowed in return.

She poured water for each man from the heavy pitcher she balanced on her hip. Andrew stood up, “here, let me help you Mary.”

Mary blushed and gave him the pitcher. She looked again at Jesus and he said, “Mary would you like to join us?” Instead of answering she turned to Martha and held out her hand. Martha entered the room slowly. With eyes lowered she bowed at each man and took Mary’s hand. They both sat at the Rabbi’s feet.

Jesus smiled at both women and said, “Ah, now, this is true hospitality, my friends have honored me with their presence as well as good food and water. Lazarus, please get cups so your sisters may share this refreshing cold water.”

For a moment Lazarus looked surprise. He quickly regained his composure and said “Why of course Jesus, anything for my sisters.”

The sisters turned quizzically to Jesus. They saw a gleam in his eye and a smile, which played at the corner of his lips. Did he know about the dousing? A wink of his eye confirmed that he did and he would keep their secret. When Lazarus brought in the two cups and poured water for his sisters, the Rabbi began his teaching.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Cynthia Zirkwitz02/14/05
This piece is beautifully crafted to demonstrate the love and humour and empathy of our Lord. You have brought Mary and Martha (and Lazarus, Jesus and Andrew) into a situation easily understood by us "moderns" without sacrificing the cultural and historical perspective. For me, this looks like a piece of "advanced" writing. Good work!
Phyllis Inniss02/16/05
There was the humour and the human touch in this story that brought it closer to us in time and space.