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Martha had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet. –Luke 10:39
Most of us refuse to pit Mary against Martha anymore. That’s one of the oldest games in Christianity, and it doesn’t serve either woman’s honor very well. Mary is the contemplative disciple, Martha the busy server.
The Church can’t do without either personality. Let’s not pretend Martha’s service is an inferior gift, or that Mary’s attention to Jesus is more sincere. The best parishes have truckloads of Marys and busloads of Marthas. We’d miss either one if there were a sudden shortage.
Still, we have to deal with Jesus’ reply to Martha that Mary has chosen the better part. Jesus reacts to Martha’s criticism of Mary’s apparent carelessness. Jesus points out Martha’s anxiety about “many things”—not the wrong things, mind you, but multiple distractions. Martha’s worrying makes her uncharitable toward her sister and distracts her from her beloved guest. The better part, we can imagine, would be for all of us to keep our focus on Jesus at the center, not on each other’s behavior.
Is your heart more “Mary” or “Martha”? How might you make more room for the “other sister” to shine?
LET US PRAY… Generous God, your Son teaches us to ask with confidence for what we need. Jesus promises that if we fervently seek, we will find and if we knock persistently, the door will open. Give courage and strength to those who are most in need of your consoling help. With your tender mercy, dry the tears of those who weep. Amen.
Image credit: Harold Copping (1863–1932), Jesus at the house of Mary and Martha (public domain in USA) via Wikimedia Commons