Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Feast of Mary and Martha

I'm feeling the need for a saint or two today and luckily for me, today is the Feast of Mary and Martha of Bethany.

I've always loved the passage about Mary and Martha while often disliking how Martha is portrayed, as a fussbudget obsessed with cooking and cleaning, thus suggesting women are unwomanly when they are not engaged in domesticity and putting them in the spiritual doghouse when they are.

Instead, I noticed the last time I got to look at this passage that the thing about Martha is that she invited Jesus into her home and then didn't listen to what he had to say. Which is something that applies to both sexes in whatever it is we tend to get caught up in.

I've always been a Martha supporter, mostly because she seems so unfairly maligned. But also because she seems more real than Mary--someone with the best of intentions who gets distracted by tasks rather than by any sort of evil intent.

"O God, heavenly Father, your Son Jesus Christ enjoyed rest and refreshment in the home of Mary and Martha of Bethany: Give us the will to love you, open our hearts to hear you, and strengthen our hands to serve you in others for his sake; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."


qoe said...

I have come to believe that this story is hinting at something wonderful: perhaps the best of all possible worlds is when each individual embodies the qualities of both Mary (being here in the now, to both listen and hear--the receiving aspect) and Martha (the facilitator of hospitality, comfort and sharing--the giving aspect). The middle way posited by Jesus' teachings suggests that this is possible, if we do not allow ourselves to over-indulge in one direction or the other. As a woman and as a mother, I am keenly aware of my own shortcomings in discovering and keeping to this middle way. Who wants to do the washing up in the kitchen while the conversation in the livingroom is lively? Of course, the answer is: nobody does. So the trick, or I should say, the challenge (since ingenuity must be applied to the problem, rather than smoke and mirrors), is to figure out how to be an active participant in the feast and in the conversation ( in life-- because that is really the story is about) while yet managing also all the bits that aren't so fun, mostly dealing with the aftermath.

qoe said...

And, though I did make reference to my own Mary vs. Martha struggles, I did COMPLETELY agree with you that the point of the story is absolutely applicable not only to all the Marys and the Marthas among us, but also to all the Martins and Maurys, as well.