Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus into their home. Mary chose to “sit at Jesus’ feet,” in the posture of a student (typically reserved for males). She did not conform to the cultural norm that women should occupy a domestic role, preparing and serving food.
Because they were sisters, Martha assumed that Mary would have assisted her in her duties. Frustrated, Martha tried to persuade Jesus to pressure Mary into helping her. But instead of forcing Mary to meet Martha’s expectations, Jesus defended Mary’s decision. Jesus affirmed Mary’s choice to define herself as a disciple, even though that conflicted with their society’s presumptions about women’s roles.
Jesus also challenged Martha to recognize that Mary’s choice did not invalidate Martha’s own way of following Jesus. Both “Martha’s work” and “Mary’s listening” were important.
How can we follow Jesus’ example of supporting the choices made by others, especially when those choices do not fall into predefined roles based on age or gender?
This message is an excerpt from the devotional “All are welcome” by Julie Kanarr in the May 2018 issue of Gather magazine.
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