There are times when reading the gospels that you come across Jesus speaking, and he seems to be speaking directly to you. You could easily substitute yourself for the other person, and realize that the message from Jesus has an incredible resonance in your own life. The passage for this week is one of those times for me, and maybe for you too. In the short section from the end of chapter ten comes this moving story of Jesus at the dinner table. Martha gets upset because Mary is spending the evening listening to Jesus while Martha is having to do all the hostessing work. Martha complains to Jesus, but he tells her to relax and that Mary is doing what she should be doing.
I get bored pretty easily. I always need to be doing something or have something in the planning stages. My wife makes fun of me for this, especially on vacation. I want to go to the beach, but I can’t stand just going to sit on the beach for hours on end. So boring! I need to build a sand castle, swim and snorkel, fish, play games, anything other than just sitting. If I can’t sit still on vacation, you can be sure I can’t sit still in “real” life either. I genuinely like to be busy. And it gets under my skin when other people just want to slow down, or don’t have a plan for what’s next. I am Martha.
Jesus words are full of grace, care, and concern. He is not mocking Martha or putting her in her place. He is sincerely concerned that she is so overwhelmed with worry and distraction. She is missing the unique opportunity to hear from Jesus. Listening to God is desperately important, and it is difficult for us Martha types. God repeatedly calls people to honor the Sabbath, a time of rest and a chance to engage with listening for God in Scripture reading and prayer. Jesus is doing the same thing in the passage for this week.
If you’re a Martha like me, take Jesus words to heart and slow down a little bit this week. If you have a Martha in your life, realize it can be hard for them, but encourage them to take a break. It can make all the difference in the world. And in that moment, perhaps they will hear God speak to them sharing love and kindness.