Today’s Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
Martha, Mary and Lazarus are named in the Gospel of John as close friends of Jesus. Their home in Bethany was a place of rest for the Lord. I’m sure the two sisters provided him with his favorite dishes and gave him space to just be, without having someone always asking him for something.
I picture Jesus there, relaxing and having a quiet conversation. No one is challenging him for the company he keeps or trying to trick him into a wrong answer; no one is begging him for a cure, or pleading for a favor. He is speaking, but among friends. He is comfortable and enjoying himself.
It is near the dinner hour and as Martha busies herself with the task at hand, she notices that every single person in the household is sitting with Jesus, except for her. She feels a twinge of regret at what she is missing. She starts to move towards her sister to join her, when she remembers the special stew she’s preparing for her guest. It was just about ready to boil over the last time she looked. The fig cakes that need to be checked; are they cool yet? and the wine that needs to be tasted. She heads back to the lean-to where the fire is. She starts to feel restless and unhappy.
“Is there not even one person who would be kind enough to help me?” she vexes to herself, “I am not the only woman in the house! The others are listening to the words of the Master, who tells us to be kind and to help each other, but are they doing that? No! I know what I’ll do; I’ll make my request to the Master directly. Then Mary won’t dare to refuse, even though she is dying to stay right where she is.”
So Martha approaches Jesus. A glance. A word to the Master. He calls her by name, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” He puts out his hand to her. “The stew will be fine,” he says to her with a wink. At that moment his mother is at the door. Jesus nods to her, and after the customary greeting, Mary heads to the kitchen.
“You stay, dear one,” she says to Martha, “you are tired and Joanna is just behind me and will keep things going.” Martha finds herself next to her sister, who puts her arm around her. Together they listen to the words of Jesus. When the food is ready, they jump up together to serve.
Martha has the strength of joy to serve and all the words of bitterness have been deflected. The Lord has taught her too what the better portion is. Not a portion of earthly food, but beyond the dishes served at the present meal, there is an eternal portion that no one can take from one who desires to receive and live by the Word of God.
What are the things that disturb my peace? Do I give in to these feelings within my heart, or do I instead find ways to remain united to the Lord?
Lord, teach me that no matter how busy I am, it is only dissatisfaction and resentment that can separate me from your grace. Help me glorify you in all that I do with the pure intention of serving God.
Copyright 2014 Julie Paavola