Reflection on Luke 10: 38-42
38Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.39And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42but one thing is necessary Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Sundays gospel reading takes us to the home of Mary and Martha whom Jesus has decided to visit. Both sisters are followers of Jesus and are overjoyed at the visit. Martha sets out to put together a fabulous meal, selecting nothing but the finest for her Lord. Mary abandons her to sit herself at the foot of Jesus and prepared to receive his teachings.
The unequal division of labor is not lost on Martha. Much like I remember feeling in my teenage years as I would do the expected chores while my sister went out with her friends, I imagine that Martha was seething inside. Eventually she could not contain her displeasure and spoke to Jesus about it. She asked him “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” I am struck by two things here; first her audacity of asking Jesus to intervene on such a mundane issue and secondly, the way it sounded like an order and not a request. Doesn’t Martha know that good hospitality goes beyond the preparation and serving and extends to making your guest feel welcomed and important?
Jesus quieted her anxiety by acknowledging that she was troubled about many things and told her those things are not important but one thing was necessary. He let her know that Mary chose the good part and he would not take it away from her. The better part was hearing about the kingdom of God. She was receiving Jesus’ teachings without distraction and with a single focus.
This passage parallels my spiritual life. As a young married woman with small children I was Martha - constantly distracted with many concerns, balancing the budget, feeding my family well, and being concerned with every aspect of their education and social interaction with a pit stop at church on Sundays where I only half attended because my mind was constantly preoccupied. Now, as an older woman I have many of the same concerns but I have learned to make time to put them aside and really talk to Him. I do not feel whole if I have not made time to worship, to share communion with my fellow parishioners and just sit and be with
God in silence. Some of my “friends” have said this is happening because I am preparing to die. I think this is happening because I finally understanding how to live as Jesus wants. I have finally come to understand that it is all about Love and that is what is important. Like Mary, I have finally chosen the better part, and if it means I don’t have to cook or do dishes…so much the better!