Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mary and Martha (and Michael)

Today’s Gospel lesson was the familiar story of Mary and Martha:

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." (Luke 10:38-42)

While Susan was preaching, I found myself thinking about whether I identify more with Mary or Martha – not an uncommon question for most of us. What occurred to me startled me a little. While I have always thought that I associate more with Mary, I found that in actuality, that is not necessarily the case. In fact, I found that if I am honest with myself, I relate to both Mary and Martha. I relate to Mary because she is where I want to be – sitting at Jesus’ feet. But I often find myself in the role of Martha, that Type A, Super J on the Myers-Briggs scale. Like Martha, I am always busy, always finding something “productive” to do. But what really startled me as I pondered this passage as it relates to my own life is that I allow the Martha side of me to take over because it is a far more comfortable place to be than sitting in silence at the feet of our Lord, listening to what he has to say to my soul. Sitting at Jesus’ feet, silent, open to what he has to say, can be a pretty scary place. Jesus might say something that I don’t want to hear, ask me to do something that I don’t want to do, ask me to go someplace I don’t want to go. More often than not, I become Martha so that I don’t have to be Mary, so I don’t have to really hear what Jesus’ is calling me to do or be.

Yet, Jesus tells us that “Mary has chosen the better part.” Jesus calls us to step out of the safety and comfort of our frenetic activity and to come, sit at his feet, and to be open to the joys if we would only open ourselves up to him. And only then, energized, renewed and informed by him, can we allow Martha to do her thing.


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