MARTHA, MARTHA!


…A woman named Martha welcomed him (Jesus) into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; but one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Lk 10: 38-42)

What always surprises me in this passage is not Martha’s frustration with her sister (I’ll admit I quite understand that part). What surprises me is Martha’s unabashed frustration with Christ. “Lord, do you not care,” she practically snaps at Him, “that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?” And then she tells Him what He needs to do: “Tell her then to help me.” The Lord, in His turn, lovingly replies, “Martha, Martha…” –and defends Mary. We don’t hear anything about Martha’s reaction to this reply, because the chapter ends here. Perhaps she dropped everything and joined Mary at the Lord’s feet. Or perhaps she stomped off in a huff.

In any event, Martha, one of the women closest to our Lord; Martha, who was to be one of the Myrrh-Bearing Women, doesn’t hesitate to speak to the Lord so openly, in her frustration. I note this today, reminding myself that our Lord chose and befriended, among His closest followers, not only the timid, quiet “types.” And among the earliest female followers of Christ we don’t see women who just tip-toe around Him, like mice. We see women who tell Him what they think, like Martha and like the Samaritan woman. They were, simply, themselves, with their gifts and flaws, as were the Apostles.

Today let me gratefully recognize that my Lord has a large variety of followers, both male and female, both shy and outgoing, contemplative and active, or something in between. Glory be to Him, Who calls me to follow Him, whatever my particular flaws and gifts may be.

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