Mary and Martha

by chuckofish


The Gospel lesson on Sunday was Luke 10:38-42.

As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

The message here is, of course, when Jesus is in your living room, pay attention! Beyond that, it is a wonderful vignette, captured in only a few words, of something we see all the time at church, in our families, in the world. We see bitterness and resentment, distracting Martha from what is really important.  We see multi-tasking gone awry.

I mean really–Martha is the one who invited Jesus in the first place! But she’s too busy to pay attention. On top of that, she’s annoyed with her sister for not doing what she thinks she should be doing.

Marthas still abound at churches everywhere. Churches are full of people who give lots of time and talent to organizing fundraisers and social events, serving coffee and working in the kitchen, keeping up the buildings and grounds. All very well and good. However, these same pillars of the church often give little more than lip service to the real reason they are allegedly active there, i.e. being disciples of Christ. They get very uncomfortable at the idea of Bible Study.

Well, as I get older, I get worse and worse at multi-tasking. I embrace that. I never liked it much in the first place. One thing at a time, I now say.

As focusing becomes more of an issue in this modern sound-bite world, I try harder to focus.

I do not need to be an anchoress (a woman who chooses to withdraw from the world to live a solitary life of prayer and mortification, although the idea is somewhat attractive to me) in order to focus. I just need to take time every day to spend with Jesus. To be a Mary, to choose the better part.

*”Christ in the House of Martha and Mary” by Johannes Vermeer