“But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 40-42)
Are you a Mary or a Martha? Perhaps a little bit of both? It seems pretty clear whose behavior Jesus found to be more right and lasting and healing. Mary was poised and ready, open to listening to God’s work, able to be still and to be silent to receive of the blessings of the good news. She recognized that what the Master would reveal to her would more than take care of the nagging human needs of that day and days to come.
Martha, on the other hand, felt burdened by her human goodness, encumbered with cares of the household, of being an appropriate host, a good mortal, presenting a perfect home. Her intentions were good, and we certainly all do need to take care of our daily business as well as be welcoming and kind to others. But we can’t let this constant busy-ness be at the expense of even one healing truth whispering to us, unheard in the din of our own rushing about. Jesus was not angry at Martha for her bustling about, but he, as always, wanted to relieve her of the burden and to show her the way to peace.
How often are we “careful and troubled about many things,” lingering both mentally and with our actions upon the petty details of life, the ins and outs of making sure everything is just right humanly, perfect, in its place? Jesus’ kind alert to Martha was not given to shame her, but to invite her in. To let her know that she, too, could relax and be washed in the spiritual good, the word that would not take away from the perfect setting, but reveal it even more, show the heaven that is never found through human doing and always found through divine grace.
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