41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered,
“you are worried and
upset about many things,
42 but only one thing is needed.
Mary has chosen what is better,
and it will not be taken away from her.
Luke 10:41, 42
You are all familiar with the passage of scripture referenced above, where Jesus is at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Martha, the consummate hostess, is busying herself making preparations for dinner with their guest; Mary sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him. Martha is indignant that Mary is not on her agenda; that she doesn’t find the role of hostess significant enough, so she chides Jesus for not pushing Mary to help. The words above constitute Jesus’ reply to Martha, and they challenge us as well.
I was reading an article that appeared (online) from the New Yorker magazine in which the author talks about “What College Can’t Do.” Joshua Rothman addresses the culture that emphasizes, what he calls, “…the careerist ‘machine’ of elite higher education.” The result of much of this push he notes leads to a culture where “…work is the field upon which we prove our value.” This is possible because “…careers mean more to us because the traditional sources of meaning, like religion, mean less…”
It is interesting to me that even secular society is becoming impatient with its demands and bored with its rewards. The resulting busyness is not providing the sense of fulfillment we all need. St. Augustine was right when he declared “Lord, you have made us for yourself, and our souls are restless until they find their rest in you.”
The lesson of Mary and Martha challenges our busyness and invites us into deep relationship. Only as we center on the things of ultimate value will any of life make sense, and without that relationship with our Lord, all our busyness will not only not satisfy, it will lead to futility. In the account of Mary and Martha we are invited to participate in that which lasts, not only for time, but for eternity.
With deep affection,