New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Jesus Visits Martha and Mary
38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 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.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
As a child growing up in our family, we entertained friends pretty often in our home. When one of these visits or events was coming up, we all were given jobs to do to prepare the house. To say that it was stressful was an understatement and it didn’t always bring out the best in each of us, especially my Mom. She was so worried that the house wasn’t clean enough, that the food and drinks wouldn’t be ready and that our guests would think less of her and our family because the conditions weren’t “perfect” for entertaining.
My Mom was like Martha, and I am sure if Jesus had been the invited guest himself she would have complained about all of us not helping her enough too! Mom often spent so much of her energy worried about what others might need or what needed to get finished that she may have missed out on some really special moments. I think I have the same tendencies – I don’t entertain as much or often as Mom did, but I do get worried and stressed out when I know someone is coming over…is the house prepared, the bathroom cleaned, the food enough to feed everyone, etc. I have to really make a conscious effort to plan ahead so I don’t fall into the trap that caught my Mom over the years because I so enjoy when folks are over at our home for a visit.
Then there’s Mary. Mary may not share Martha’s gift of hospitality, but she is certainly able to capitalize on the opportunity of having Jesus in her home! While we may not have the physical presence of our Lord and Savior at the kitchen table with us for a meal, do we take the time to stop and just be with Jesus?
One of the readings from Morning Prayer today was Psalm 63 – one of my all time favorites. Here is the text of my favorite verse from this psalm:
1 O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
The first line of this Psalm sets the tone for me. I need to find the time, make the time if needed, to just BE in God’s presence. I need this….we all need this like we need water and our other basic needs. Like you, my life is quite busy. I have a very demanding professional life and a full family life as well. But I want to define myself first and foremost as a follower of Christ. There are ups and downs in any relationship – with our spouse, our friends, our co-workers, and others. I think we can all agree that the more energy we put into a relationship the more likely that it results in a great outcome! When I invest the time, no matter how busy I am, and choose to be in the presence of God just like Mary did that day amid the hustle and bustle of Martha’s scurrying about, then I will choose the “one thing” Jesus describes in verse 42 of today’s reading from Luke. Choosing to be in the presence of the Lord will give us more meaning, more joy, more security, more love and more purpose than all the chores in the world.
So I commit to spending just the right amount of time in my Martha role preparing for and serving others and more time in my Mary role, enjoying the grace of our Lord. Both are necessary in this gift of relationship with Christ, but we need to make sure it is balanced time spent.
Your presence is all I need today, Lord. Help me stay focused on serving others when it is time and carve out time to talk to you and be with you every day. Thank you for your presence in my life. AMEN.