Tag Archives: Mary and Martha

Choosing between the Good and the Best


As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village.  A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home.  She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said.  But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen.  Later, she stepped in, interrupting them.  “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me?  Tell her to lend me a hand.”

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.  One thing only is essential.  Mary has chosen what is the Best and it won’t be taken from her.” (Gospel of Luke 10:38-42 The Message Version)

Every day there are many Good things that vie for our time and attention.  Some of them are important too, like making dinner.  I’m sure if Martha hadn’t made dinner for everyone at some point Jesus would have gotten hungry!  So there are things that SOMEONE has to do because they are the basics of life.  But where we get off track is when we start to treat the basics like they are the most important thing there is.  Sometimes we are in the presence of something or someone far greater than the ordinary- and we need to recognize that.  We should be treating those special moments with greater honor and distinction.  The ordinary has it’s place as “good” in our lives, but when the “best” comes to visit we need to drop everything and spend some quality time right there.

When was the last time you just sat at Jesus’s feet?  Have you lingered around the altar lately or are you always rushing away after the sermon is done?

This is a hard lesson to learn.  I’m a Martha by nature.  If you come to my house I will automatically move to the kitchen to make you something yummy to eat.  That whole relational, spending time with people is something I’ve just begun to learn by living in Latin America.

When we lived in Mexico, getting together with friends often meant spending the whole day together or going for lunch and coming home after dinner.  It was such an ordeal to get anywhere in that city that once you got there, no one was in a hurry to leave.  A “get-together” could easily last 5 hours or more!  That was hard for us Americans to adjust to, but once we did, we found that we could place a higher value on the people we were with instead of on the schedule we were keeping.

Coming back to America, we felt rushed by our old routine of sitting down to the meal the minute we walked in the door and leaving about a half hour after the dessert.  It just felt like it went by too fast.  I missed our Latino way.

The big lesson to be learned here is that Jesus is much more interested in spending time with us than in what we can do to serve him.  I get the feeling that Jesus would have been fine with a more simple bite to eat if it meant that Martha could come and spend time with him too.  Sitting at his feet and hanging on his every word is the Best.  And when we find ourselves in that position, it won’t be taken away from us.