I’ve always had some sympathy for dear Martha. She was treated unfairly by Jesus, who I imagine was glad to eat the meal Martha eventually prepared later in the visit – and saintly Mary too. Did they offer to do the washing-up?! This is an instance where the message doesn’t sit well with the situation described.
Listening to Jesus is the way we learn from him directly. We’ve all been in the situation where we are trying to listen but our mind wanders off down some more attractive or more pressing avenue of concern or interest. Don’t you find that happening in worship or in your daily devotions? What’s got to be done at 9am overrides the quiet prayer time at 6.30am. Even monks and friars and nuns encounter the same problem in their monastic communities.
So, what is this passage saying to us – that Mary who listened is better in Jesus’s eyes than Martha who worries about practical things? That those who are spiritual get more brownie points from Jesus than those who are practical? No!
Sadly, many so-called spiritual people take it that way; and then give the practical people a sense of inferiority. Jesus is stressing the importance of listening to what he has to say. To hear what the religious leaders didn’t hear. He’s calling us to join in the daily struggle to hear what he has to say and respond to it amid all the daily activities, duties and responsibilities that we have – whether we are Mary or Martha types. His words in the scriptures can keep us on track but so can those precious moments of quiet in the busyness of the day.
Lord, listening to you and hearing what you say is the way we grow in your love and follow your example. May your Spirit help us to learn your message of new life, and to live it out day by day as your people. Amen.