Quieting Martha To Be Mary
Last week’s Gospel reading was short, but perhaps more bitter than sweet.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
~ Luke 10:38-42
Our priest commented on how this Gospel reading often draws questions, usually from women. Who doesn’t sympathize with Martha’s complaint about doing all the scut work while her sister sat in the other room with the guys? Who doesn’t feel rebuffed when Jesus doesn’t take her side?
If you are familiar with the Bible, you know that Jesus usually was very kind to the women in his life and the women the encountered on his journeys. This story does not mean that Jesus had no respect for “women’s work,” or that He didn’t value the nurturing and hospitality that women offered to Him and His disciples. But it is a reminder to keep our work in perspective. No matter how important we think our work is–or how long our “to do” list has grown–making time to listen to God is always more important.
This story also has me thinking about my “need” to be doing something. When something is weighing heavily on my heart or keeping me awake with worry, I can quiet my mind much more quickly if I can do something about it, even if that something won’t directly impact whatever is troubling me. Even when there is really nothing I can do, I often try to put it out of my mind by doing something else–burying myself in work or housework, trying to clear my head with a long run, or distracting myself with friends.
This story reminds me that instead of all this doing, I should make time to listen to God. Instead of distracting myself with busyness, I should sit at Jesus’ feet, listening to what He has to say.
Do you sympathize with Martha?
Do you make time to listen to God?