“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 CEB)
Poor Martha. Like the disciple Thomas who will forever be remembered as doubting Thomas, Martha will forever bear the idea of being too busy to take time out with Jesus. I suspect that many of us totally relate to Martha’s concerns and angst over Mary’s lack of help when there was SO much to do.
We might interpret Jesus words to her as a reprimand, but I don’t think that’s really what is happening here. Even though we can put ourselves in Martha’s shoes and know that she is a highly responsible and organized person who takes her job as chief cook and bottle washer seriously, we also need to remember that, when we get into those types of situations, we probably are stressed, anxious, and cranky.
It’s no wonder Martha was upset with her sister who seemed to be neglecting her responsibilities and just sitting (maybe adoringly) at Jesus’ feet. I would feel the same way (and have).
So, what is Jesus’ point, then? Maybe Mary had chosen the better part because she was spending time listening, learning, and focusing on Jesus BEFORE she started the household chores. I suspect she didn’t intend to stay there all day and ignore Martha totally. Perhaps the “better part” is truly taking a deep breath and “leaning on the everlasting arms” for a little while to help her (and us) stay calm and focused.
When we have meetings at the two churches I serve, we always start with a devotional and end with the Lord’s Prayer. The devotions help us to set aside the busy-ness, challenges, and other types of things that have happened throughout the day. By opening with scripture, reflection and prayer, we are better able to remember that we are ministering together as a group in the name of Jesus for the sake of the Church.
That’s a great example for our lives, too. When we stop to take a moment of silence, say a short prayer, and remember that Jesus is with us as we go out the door, we have a great way to start the day. A number of people have told me that, when they forget to do that, their day seems off-kilter somehow.
I suspect that is what is really behind Jesus’ words to Martha. Mary was choosing to take time out so she would have the energy and focus to do her work. May we give it a try!
When have you been “hassled and harried” to the point of distraction?
How can you begin (or continue) the practice of centering in Christ as you go through your day?
How does it make a difference?