MARTHA AND MARY
“Now as they went on their way, he 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 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)
Was Mary the first feminist and yes, Martha is vacuuming but did she want to sit a the feet of Jesus as well? and go against convention.
Why this picture, well it brings the story to today,
In Jesus time Martha would have been brushing and today we use a vacuum, but that is where it ends. We still behave the same, always busy, distracted by the tasks of every day life.
Martha is distracted, preparing a meal for Jesus and his followers. she didn’t have the use of the mod cons we have to today ,the microwave or freezer. she couldn’t prepare the meal in advance given the hot climate. food had to be prepared and eaten straight away.
Can you imagine Martha getting more resentful as she works hard and Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, listening to his every word. I wonder is it because she wishes to be sat with Jesus or is it because as a female it is Mary’s duty as a woman to also look after the hospitality? Also Mary had crossed an imaginary line, she was behaving like a man. In that culture the house was divided into male space and female space, and male and female roles were clearly defined and this line shouldn’t be crossed. Mary had crossed it and Martha wasn’t happy. She was so upset that she demanded the Jesus make her sister help with the work.
His reply “Martha dear, you are fussing far too much and getting yourself worked over nothing” But to Martha it wasn’t nothing, to Martha hospitality was important. After all, it was Jesus in their home and you feed your guest.
What is the first thing we do, we offer and cup of tea or coffee and maybe a biscuit or cake.I wonder would you want Jesus to turn to Mary and say “get up and help, do something”
The second part of Jesus’ reply “one thing only is essential and Mary has chosen it. It is the main course and won’t be taken from her”
Mary had chosen to listen, to take time to hear the words spoken by her guest, to hear his teachings, to contemplate on his words. Mary had gone beyond the business of serving to the service of contemplation.
Martha represents the active, women those who visit, extend hospitality, those who dedicate their time being Gods outward present, leading by example.
Mary a contemplative, stands for all those women who, when they hear Jesus speaking about the kingdom of God, know that God is calling them to listen carefully so that they can speak of it too. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus as his student, as a would- be teacher and preacher of the kingdom of God.
Both active and contemplative are both important. Without, the first we wouldn’t eat and without the second we wouldn’t worship.
We should work hard ,but not too hard and should remember to to enjoy life that hes been given to us by the grace of God,too feel our place in the spirit. We should do the things we are called to do, no matter how difficult they are. At the centre of of this Mary/Martha or as I read ying/yang is Jesus our Lord and Saviour – the person we should spend time with when we can stop ourselves being busy, for Jesus the reason we live life the way we do.
So was Mary one of the first feminist, I think she should be considered so. She crossed the line; she sat as the men did at the feet of the teacher,as a pupil to learn , as a would be teacher and preacher of the kingdom of God.
So what would you do, would you be doing the vacuuming or would leave it for another day and sit at the feet of Jesus. I know what I would do. Are you a Mary or a Martha ?