“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.”
Jesus in Luke’s account of his life has just told the story of the Good Samaritan. The Good Samaritan story, simply in a straight-forward and powerfully significant way, answers “Who is my neighbor?” Our neighbors are those in need around us, in our communities.
And then Luke told the story of Martha and Mary. Martha welcomes Jesus into her house, and she exemplifies hospitality. She is getting ready for dinner with Jesus. She wants everything to be just right. Here in her house is this One who is a fresh voice of life, of love. This One is changing her life and the world around her. He is restoring life in seemingly impossible people and places. He is including everyone in his movement of transformational love – the insiders and the outsiders, the elite and the average person and those engaged in the religious structure and those who are ostracized and left out. Here he is in her house. Martha wants the evening to be so right and good.
Yet, she becomes irritated with her sister, Mary, who is not helping. She is sitting at the feet of Jesus gazing into His eyes and basking in the presence of this ordinary carpenter who was extraordinarily modeling a real, vibrant spirituality. Mary is hearing every word Jesus spoke and is taking it to heart.
Martha complains to Jesus. Jesus calmly says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part.”
I can just imagine Martha saying to Jesus, “I thought the better part was compassionately being the Good Samaritan, and being hospitable and welcoming to You and others.”
The better part, not by any means the only part, is being centered in the love of Christ. The Marthas of this world, including me, are so busy doing the faith – being compassionate to others, fruitfully serving in the church, participating in worship, etc., that we often forget the better thing – sitting daily at the feet of Jesus, being silent, contemplating the Scripture and reflecting on our lives, praying with words and without, etc. How are we daily engaged in spiritual practices that open us up so that we are just sitting at the feet of the living Christ?
Our being in Christ precedes our doing for Christ!
Cultivating Transformational Leaders,