The Gospel presents two sisters, Martha and Mary, depicting two individuals who are different in their disposition, which affects their belief and relationship with God. The contrasting images of the two sisters make us also reflect on our disposition and attitude toward people and to the Lord.
Martha was the action type of person. One can depend on her to get things done. When Jesus came to their home, she was busy with all the hospitality work. She immediately moved to action and prepared food for Jesus and His disciples. When their brother Lazarus died; and heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him.
Mary was the quiet type. She is not the goto person when you need something done, but she is always ready to listen. Knowing Jesus to be a great teacher, Mary saw it as an opportunity to learn from a great preacher. During that time, women listening to teachers did not expect to become disciples; their presence would not speak well of the image of the teacher.
The answer of Jesus to Martha’s worry somehow is a warning against unnecessary activism. In one scene of the Gospel, Jesus praises the scribe for knowing that loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; and loving our neighbor as ourselves is the highest good.You are close to the kingdom of God.Jesus said this because the scribes need to prove that this is not just lip service:Before love is prayer, dialogue, listening, and reflection.
The point is: She could have asked before moving into action mode, and Jesus would have probably told her that food was not an urgent need.
Notice also that Jesus did not say that Martha’s actions were wrong. But at that moment, Mary’s action has more value. Mission to the people first, and then, and the need of the disciples, second. The care of Martha for hospitality was her way of showing her love for Jesus. Her intentions were good. Jesus had to remind her of more valuable things in this world and not to be anxious and worry too much. Jesus’ mind is not at all busy with the material but about spiritual things: To proclaim the Kingdom of His Father.The first day we stop worrying is the first day of our journey with God.
We need both Martha and Mary in the Church. Some people highlight the Golden Rule for their actions, while others desire a deeper understanding of the Word of God. In the Church, many things need action and sound reasoning. Other times, we need wisdom and a caring heart. One thing is sure:If we sit down at Jesus’ feet, we will learn and do the right thing.
Martha focused on her work for the Lord, while Mary focused on the Lord of the work. A good deed is good; as long as it is not detrimental to our relationship with the Lord. More than managers and stewards, we are disciples of the great Master. Let us ask ourselves: Are we a manager or a disciple? We can be professional without becoming impersonal.