As far as Bible characters go, I’ve always identified more with Martha than Mary. In Luke 10:38-42, when Martha opens her home to Jesus and his disciples, I understand why she’s “distracted with many things.” The disciples were likely tired, smelly, and a bit hangry from journeying alongside Jesus.
But Jesus says, “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 10:40-42).
We might be surprised by Jesus’ words. Shouldn’t he be criticizing Mary for leaving her sister with all the work? Instead, he praises her for sitting at his feet and listening.
I don’t think Jesus is being an ungrateful house guest. His words show us that he desires to be in relationship with us. God loves us not for what we do but who we are — God’s children. God does not need us to busy ourselves with passing and refilling wine glasses or gathering up dirty dishes; God wants us to open our hearts to God’s presence.
This message is excerpted from “What Scripture says about God’s love,” by Erin Strybis in the September 2019, Café online magazine. Today we commemorate Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany and Olaf, King of Norway, martyr, 1030.
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