Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Mary and Martha were apparently well known to Jesus. John’s Gospel tells us that these are the same people whose brother Lazarus died and was raised from the dead. They are family friends. It’s a natural thing for Jesus and his disciples to stop there when they are in town. Our Gospel passage from Luke 10:38-42 gives us a small glimpse in to the life of this family, at least on this one occasion.
Before we pick on Martha (or on Mary), let’s remember a few important details. First, this is just a snapshot of the household. It could well be that Mary usually did a lot of the work of entertainment. It could also be that Martha wasn’t feeling particularly well this day, or that she was distracted by something along with her preparations for the meal. Mary could possibly be eager to help with the meal but she might think it rude to leave the guests to themselves. Maybe Lazarus was not around and it seemed right to have someone there with Jesus and whatever disciples were present. There are countless details we don’t know. The two details we know are that Mary was listening to Jesus and Martha was troubled with the serving.
Jesus’ response doesn’t speak down to either Mary or Martha. He never indicates that the meal and other things aren’t important. He does say that, at least at the moment, receiving his word is the most important thing for Mary to be doing. The other details can be sorted out, there is no pressure, there is no hurry. Certainly nobody could call Martha negligent. And those gathered are friends. They are all right. If something is delayed or even missing, it will be fine.
When we gather together, may we have God’s grace to gather as friends who can be patient with one another, who can enjoy one another’s presence, who can surround ourselves with God’s Word, even while we make the spaghetti and the salad. It is the fellowship we have in Christ which binds us together. The pressure is not on Martha, nor on Mary, nor on any of the disciples, but on the Christ who redeems our lives. He has taken care of what is most important. We’ll manage the rest, and it will be all right.
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