”Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things…” Jesus’ words may sting for those of us who relate to Martha. Mary, it seems, ignores Martha’s bustle, focusing instead on Jesus and his teaching. We rankle at Jesus’ response to Martha. After all, she was taking care of Jesus and those in his company, wasn’t she?
This exchange between Jesus and Martha is not the only one between them, however. Martha is featured in another key Gospel narrative, the one in which her brother, Lazarus, has died. Jesus waits to come to the grieving family. Martha is the first to question his absence, and to declare her belief that he is the Messiah. It seems that Martha has been listening all along. She has a trusting relationship with and faith in Jesus. Perhaps she, like Jesus’ mother Mary, has been pondering many things in her heart. Maybe we overreact to Jesus’ words to Martha, and therefore miss something important for us as well. In chiding Martha about her anxious pace, Jesus drew her back to her trusting relationship with him.
As we go about our daily lives, it will be good for us to remember Martha and Mary. Let us consider our relationship with the Lord in the midst of our daily living, and allow Christ’s love, forgiveness, and mercy to permeate our hearts, and to shine through us. At times, we must be like Mary and “choose the better part,” and at other times, we will be Martha, busy with many things. We can let go of the worry and anxiousness that burdened Martha and sometimes burdens us, and learn to trust in God even in, especially in, our busy, bustling, lives!