“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 10:41b-42)
In my first congregation, I had an older female friend who came into my office, frustrated. She read the story of Mary and Martha and was upset because she understood herself to be a Martha. She asked, “Why would God affirm Mary, when Martha did all the work?” Now, don’t you for one second think this is just a woman’s issue because Mary and Martha are female. Mary and Martha’s personalities and examples are indicative of both men and women.
Most of us are like Martha. We try to please. We try to earn other people’s acceptance, validation, and even base our own respectability on how other people perceive us. In similar fashion, Martha’s faith is one of trying to earn God’s acceptance, validation, and respectability through works righteousness. If we are good enough, kind enough, spiritual enough, anything enough, God just might accept and love us.
Mary has another type of faith. She has a healthy self-confidence that allows her to base her worth on more than just the affirmation of others. She can comfortably sit at the feet of Jesus because she knows herself to be worthy of Jesus’s attention and instruction. Mary isn’t arrogant, but a person who understands what is important, and the dishes aren’t as important as soaking up every minute she can while present with Jesus.
Today, prayerfully come to terms with the Martha and Mary within you. We all need a big part of Martha within, or nothing would get done. But too many of us ignore our inner Mary. We are so busy doing, that we ignore the Divine presence in our lives. Give us the ability to affirm our inner Mary and stop long enough to fall at the feet of Jesus and listen, learn, and enjoy the Messiah.