“The Lord answered her. ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted about many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Since we know Jesus was friends with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, Jesus may have often been a guest in Martha’s home. She no doubt looked forward to every opportunity to play hostess to Jesus. You can just imagine all the thoughts that were going through Martha’s head:
“Jesus likes my chicken fricassee, but I served that entrée the last time He was here.”
“Yes, this time I think I will prepare a nice beef brisket with some potatoes and carrots. A Pinot Grigio will be a wonderful accompaniment. ”
“The napkins and tablecloth were laundered, but could use some touch up pressing.”
“We need a centerpiece … I saw some lilies in the field and they will do nicely.”
“I’ll set the table with Mother’s good china and silver, which always makes a beautiful table.”
“Oh yes, there must be a stool, basin of lavender scented water and towels to greet Jesus when He arrives.
“Dessert, dessert … my milk and honey bread pudding will be the piece de resistance!”
Martha devised her plans and said, “Mary can do this before Jesus arrives and Mary can do that when Jesus arrives, while I attend to the cooking and serving.”
Jesus arrives and after having freshened up, He takes a seat in the great room. Mary welcomes Jesus and attends to His needs showing hospitality. Martha is in the kitchen preparing the meal. Mary does not return to the kitchen and Martha looks out and finds Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet … listening to every word He says. Martha is not amused! In fact, she is steamed and she complains to Jesus and His response is the text for today.
“Bless Martha’s heart!” We can all relate to wanting our homes to be in perfect order, the meals we serve to be delicious and memorable, and good conversations to provide us with wonderful memories of our family or friends’ visits for years to come. Often in the process of trying to accomplish all that, we can become so consumed with tasks that we neglect our guest. Jesus might have been just as happy with a tuna fish sandwich, some chips, cookies and a glass of Chablis and to have Martha and Mary seated beside Him listening attentively and renewing their friendship in this short time they had together.
Dear God, forgive us when we like Martha get our priorities confused. Help us to make wise choices as Mary did. Remind us that making our guests feel at home is less about “things” and more about our being present with them while they are visiting us. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.