You’ve probably heard it a hundred times, the story of Mary and Martha. Two sisters with two very different mindsets. Jesus arrives at their house, and while Mary is enthralled with Jesus, Martha is worried about being the hostess with the mostess. This passage resonates with us women so well because it’s so true, and let me tell you – if David was a man after God’s own heart, I am a surely a woman after Martha’s.
I have always been overly concerned with order and rules. While I like to think I’m the fun aunt in the family, I know I’m the aunt you call when you want your kids to be put to bed on time, having said their prayers and brushed their teeth, and then I’ll proceed to clean your entire house while the kids sleep. From what I can tell, I think Martha would be that aunt too, bless her heart.
So it’s no wonder I have also always struggled with this Gospel passage, I listen to it and try to understand what God is teaching, but then I feel like poor me, I mean Martha, gets a bad rap. But seriously, how was Martha to know that she was going to be getting visitors, let alone JESUS and his crew, and she probably didn’t even have time to clean. And its Jesus, you gotta pull out all the best snacks for God, and on such short notice – I would have had a panic attack.
I can picture her slaving away in the kitchen, gettin all warm from working so hard, and then suddenly she’s busting through the door with frizzy hair, lamenting about her gosh darn lazy sister. To my, I mean Martha’s, horror she doesn’t seem to get much sympathy from Jesus. Where is the justice?!?
While I may feel for my girl Martha, if I’m honest with myself, I completely understand the lesson that Jesus is trying to teach not only Martha, but all of us. As women, we like to keep ourselves busy; it seems there is always something that needs to be done. But have you ever stopped to think about the source of the need.
If you sit down and reflect on everything that keeps you busy in life, I think in a lot of cases, you may find that the need isn’t coming from others, its coming from yourself. At least for me anyways, when I sat down and reflected on the story of Martha with an open heart, I realized it wasn’t just that things needed to get done, it was that I needed to feel needed. I’m so like Martha, instead of allowing herself to be consumed by the presence of her Savior, she felt as though she needed to prove her worth. Yes, Jesus may have been hungry, but from the sounds of it, He wasn’t asking for a feast, He wasn’t asking to be served. Jesus didn’t come all that way to be fed, He came to feed.
How often do we force feed people our well intentioned active kindness? How often do we busy ourselves with work instead of giving them what they really need – our presence. In the same way that Jesus made sure Martha knew the good portion was His presence at her home, we need to remember that just us being is also good. While washing the dishes and cleaning up crumbs is important and necessary, our worth does not lie in what we have to offer, we are worth it because God made us that way. Kindness and helpfulness are love in action, but not when they are used as a means to hide our insecurities and avoid relationships.
So as we sit and eagerly anticipate the birth of our Savior this Advent season, do not allow yourself to become anxious about things. Spend time with those you love instead of worrying about how much money you spend on them. Go to confession and clean your soul instead of worrying if you’ve dusted all the cobwebs in your corners. Keep in mind all those who struggle year round to be fed and remember them when you are tempted to loosen the notch on your belt and go up for thirds. If you focus your mind and your heart on the Creator instead of the created, you will suddenly find yourself right where you need to be, listening at the feet of Jesus. While we may constantly find ourselves imitating Martha, let’s strive to be Marys.
Take some time during this Advent season to read the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42. Jesus is truly on His way to your home. Listen to what He wants to say to you, and remember that there is no need to be anxious or worried about His arrival; He will take you just the way you are, frizzy hair and all.