she is so busy with how to make things proper. so upset about not meeting the high standards she has set for herself and her environment. so concentrated on what has to be done next.
she is busy with jesus. keeping company with him. listening to him. being with him. notwithstanding who else is there.
he is the guest of that house. he is busy being himself. being present to this house and people round him. being ready to accept those that sit and those that run. those that are his disciples and those that are not.
the side-sides are those others. the disciples. the other women. the nameless people in every story.
what picture transpires here?
the positive in martha is her need for action, her strife for perfection. her standards. probably, her cooking.
the not-so-positive in this character is the self-centeredness and the idea that everyone has to do things her way. and this is her question to jesus, too: Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me. (Luke 10:40 NCV)
the excellent in mary character is her ability to concentrate on jesus alone, on his words. to listen.
the to-be improved here is the lack of action, the ability to see other people.
mary asks no questions. she is content in her listening.
and then there is jesus. he accepts the service. he talks to his disciples and to mary. he is the point of convergence, the gust of honour of the evening. he also is the unexpected arbiter in the stressful situation that arises.
we do not know much about those that the text calls ‘followers’.
what conclusions can be drawn here?
first. sometimes it is much easier to make oneself busy with stuff and chores and whatnot – than to stop and listen to jesus.
second: when bringing something to jesus for judgement – it is worth preparing oneself for unexpected answers. because jesus is unpredictable, and his words oblige to a different action than we have imagined.
third: jesus suggests a theocentric, not egocentric service to his followers. he suggests a heart of mary in a martha world.
and thus, let us be busy preparing a room for him, and a meal for him – both in the church life and in our hearts; but let us not in our service forget him who we serve, let us not substitute running for listening, principles for people, and standards for simple truthful love of those individuals god has so carefully provided for us as our companions on this journey of faith.