All posts tagged: Martha and Mary

Work: A Four-Letter Word?

There is a certain ambiguity in Scripture about the meaning and value of labor, and I am aware of no clear and positive statement on the subject by the Church. Rerum novarum and Quadragesima anno just don’t really approach the subject, and especially not from a more modern scriptural viewpoint. What I have to suggest on this topic hardly constitutes an exhaustive treatment of what the idea of work might be for a Catholic, but I do think it might open up some avenues for thought. Genesis has God laboring for six days and then resting (Gen 2:1–4), although this does not seem to mean that labor is tiring even for God; it seems rather to show him as a model for our freedom on the Sabbath day, a gift God gives us by his example. Genesis 3:17–19, on the other hand, takes the position that labor is indeed a curse, at least in the way that Adam and Eve would have to do it after the Fall. Job takes a very negative view of …

The Fruitful Promise of God

“Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her menstrual periods” (Gen 18:11). This is the kind of detail that frequently perplexes my undergraduates. Why does the Bible care about Sarah’s fertility? The promise that God makes to Abraham consists of land and progeny: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen 12:2). Yet, there’s a problem. Abraham and Sarah are very old—well past the age of childbearing. If the covenant is to be fulfilled, it will be God’s miraculous intervention that is required. And of course, God acts. The LORD appears to Abraham through the mediation of three mysterious figures. And Abraham, righteous man that he is, approaches them, bringing them water in the midst of a desert. He bathes their hot and tired feet, inviting them to sit down at table. He provides not simply a bit of bread but yogurt and meat. He welcomes the stranger in …