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Martha and Mary

Gospel Reading: Lk 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.


This short passage is unique to Luke and gains its significance from the prioritizing that Jesus indicates in the tension raised by Mary’s not helping Martha. The story can be considered from two angles. From Martha’s perspective, we see that she is clearly upset that Mary does not assist her in preparing a meal for Jesus. Anyone familiar with sibling rivalry can appreciate the tone of her challenge, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?” The way the question is asked in Greek makes it clear that Martha anticipates a positive answer to her question. She expects Jesus to come to her aid. Martha is performing a worthy task, but she is consumed with what others are doing. Jesus does not criticize her for what she is doing but for being preoccupied about others’ activities. From the standpoint of Mary emerges the example of someone willing to sit at Jesus’ feet and have fellowship with him as his disciple. There is something tranquil with what Mary does. In the hustle and bustle of life, we often need to pause for a moment of reflection before the Lord. Jesus’ emotion-filled reply to Martha, speaking her name twice, indicates just how appropriate it is for this sister to sit before him.

Discipleship sometimes requires that tasks be suspended while fellowship is maintained.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: books@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.