Martha and Mary

Discussion in 'Scriptural Thoughts' started by garabandal, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. garabandal

    garabandal Powers

    Mary and Martha lived with their brother Lazarus at Bethany, a village not far from Jerusalem. They are mentioned in several episodes in the Gospels. On one occasion, when Jesus and His disciples were their guests (Luke 10:38-42), Mary sat at Jesus' feet and listened to Him while her sister Martha busied herself with preparing food and waiting on the guests, and when Martha complained, Jesus said that Mary had chosen the better part. When Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, had died, Jesus came to Bethany. Martha, upon being told that He was approaching, went out to meet Him, while Mary sat still in the house until He sent for her. It was to Martha that Jesus said: "I am the Resurrection and the Life." (John 11:1-44) Again, about a week before the crucifixion, as Jesus reclined at table, Mary poured a flask of expensive perfume over Jesus' feet. Mary was criticized for wasting what might have been sold to raise money for the poor, and again Jesus spoke on her behalf. (John 12:1-8)

    On the basis of these incidents, many Christian writers have seen Mary as representing Contemplation (prayer and devotion), and Martha as representing Action (good works, helping others); or love of God and love of neighbor respectively.

    What did Jesus mean when he said, 'Mary has chosen the better part'?
  2. CRW

    CRW New Member

    Mary was taking care of the Bride, preparing (washing his feet in oil and cleaning with her tears and hair) a preparation for his burial. He also said that his disciplines would have time to fast after the Bride had gone. Just my take on this.

  3. padraig

    padraig New Member

    Saint Therese of Liseaux has a wonderful little commentary on this in her autobiography, 'The Story of a Soul', as far as I recall..

    What Cecil said about the burial is true, I think.

    When I was young the Brother in school used to prepare us for evangelisation. He told us to picture our selves on a rail way carriage when an unbeliever comes on board and what we should say to him/her to convince them about the true Church. However experience taught me to wait on the Holy Spirit ,rather than to wade into arguments with folks who are often far,far smarter than myself. This passage always speaks to me of waiting on the Holy Spirit to lead me. Martha was not wrong to help out and get things fixed, its just she picked the wrong time to do it. Her sister Mary , led by the Spirit sat and listened..and well that she did for Jesus was about to die.Anyone who loves to pray will love this passage it really underlines the need for sitting at the feet of Jesus.

  4. maryrose

    maryrose Powers

    I always feel for Martha in this story. Here she is like many wives and mothers arranging everything for the comfort and convenience of others and it seems to get overlooked. On the other hand Mary reminds me of the woman who focusses on the man and lets the other arrangements go to pot knowing that some other woman will pick up the pieces. It seems to me that martha is totally overlooked. She must have felt terrible. This story does not warm my heart really it makes me feel that the hidden work of wives and mothers is second rate. This seems a bit harsh I know but that is how I feel about this story.

  5. Mario

    Mario Powers

    Though the story of Jesus' visit to the sisters' home is a valid platform for comparing the contemplative and apostolic callings, that was not the intent of Luke. The central point of the Lord's correction of Martha is found in the phrase, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things..."

    Hospitality is constantly upheld as a good and holy habit. The story of Abraham's hospitality to the three visitors (Gen 18) comes to mind. Another example would be the woman of Shunem in 2King 4:8, who prepared a room for the prophet, Elisha, to use in his travels. Also, the Book of Hebrews tells us, "Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

    And so, Martha set about to practise hospitality, but she did it with a heart full of anxiety. She took out her frustration on her sister. I see this played out at home in the way my children relate. One will be asked to assist their mother in getting supper on. The child will become irritated because the other siblings are still having fun. Shouldn't they be told to help! The act of helping Mom is viewed with justice in mind, not with charity, and so frustration sets in. It's the old tit for a tat.

    But to act truly in charity requires such acts to come from a peaceful heart. Such peace requires a prayerful heart! So we see that the fruit of authentic prayer is charity, and consequently, charity must spring from a peaceful, prayerful heart.

    In the story, Martha is corrected because she has an anxious heart and her actions were not flowing from genuine love. Jesus was not criticising her hospitality.

    I say, "Hurrah for Martha!" Try to do better next time!

    Back to garabandal's question. Mary had chosen the better part because her attentiveness to Jesus at that moment flowed from a simple and uncluttered heart!

    Safe in the Hearts of Jesus and Mary!
  6. padraig

    padraig New Member

    Thanks Terry, that was very insightful, I has missed this, that Martha was, 'Troubled and anxious about many things'...

    I was thinking about this during the week and was reminded of the dream I had last week in which myself and several souls danced before God. I was thinking that this a little like this story, that God calls us to 'dance' through the Holy Spirit and that when that calls comes we must get up and dance. That Mary heard the call to dance and Martha did not. I can't get that dream out of my mind, it has instilled in myself a real longing for heaven, a real home sickness. :)

    Mary I see why you are a little annoyed at this story, I find often the Holy Spirit slaps me in the face a little with His goings on. I think wrestling with scripture is a real sign of the working of deep and powerful grace in our hearts. As..I think it was Jacob who wrestled with the angel. Scripture, it seems to me is always most effective when it causes us to wrestle.

    "Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed. He wept, and made supplication unto Him: He found him in Bethel, and there He spake with us; even the Lord God of hosts; the Lord is his memorial." Hosea 12:4, 5.

  7. maryrose

    maryrose Powers

    This explanation from mario has helped me to understand this a little better. Being anxious and annoyed about things is a condition we all wrestle with. I think this story is telling me to go to the feet of Jesus and wait on hi response rather than being anxious and trying to fix things myself.
    Thanks Mario for this insight.


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