At the Home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a]Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I have always been a “Martha”. I am an organized, task oriented person. Even though I am now retired, I still compose a schedule for the day which gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Like Martha, I would have been the sister busy preparing the meal while Mary is occupied listening to Jesus. I find myself wanting to question Jesus in his vote for Mary as having “chosen what is better”. So just what would they have eaten that day?
Through my participation in the JOY program this year, I am learning about what Jesus meant and why people and relationships need to come first and completing the To Do list needs to become less important in my life. I now reflect on my family life and work life and realize that I should have spent more time investing and growing in relationship with the people around me. Chances are that the work that needed to be done would have got done anyway and perhaps even more effectively because of positive relationships with all those involved. And perhaps there would have been some work that didn’t get done and really wasn’t necessary anyway.
At my volunteer placement, there is a minimal role for “Martha” activity which would be easy for me. What is more difficult but the primary gift that I have to offer is to be present to the people. I can’t take away their sense of loss or suffering. But perhaps I can lessen their loneliness and boredom just by being interested in their journey and who they are right now. Faith is lived through relationship.
I am also learning about that same need to be present to and to be in relationship with God in my prayer life. I am learning to approach prayer with quiet, with listening, with openness, and with patience.
I am trying very hard to be a little more Mary.