Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Martha or Mary - who should I be?

A friend took us on a Kinta Valley tour a few days ago. On one road in Batu Gajah, two buildings hemmed us in. The barbed state prison loomed over on one side and a serene hospital was sprawled on the other. We were quite amused. It seemed to say, 'Choose - get imprisoned or get healed!' It makes me think of the story of Jesus in Martha & Mary's house. CHOOSE - A Life of Contemplation or A Life of Activism?

We all laud Mary's intuitive ability to choose the 'better thing.' Sitting at Jesus' feet, hanging onto Jesus' every word for her. Oblivious to the clanging in the kitchen and the needs of weary travelers. She did the difficult thing, refusing the tyranny of the urgent. She rose above the trapping of busy-ness. And for centuries since, she's been our elusive goal of the centred heart with the heavenward gaze.

Honestly, if not for Jesus' pronouncement on 'the better thing', I'd root for Martha. I still do. She sees the needs. She's compassionate to the hungry. She gives from whatever abilities she has. She's responsible and she gets things done. I like Martha. And I try to be a Martha wherever I am. Don't you? Who would you prefer to have today in your workplace? What kind of colleagues, office help, or house help would you want? Contemplative Marys or Productive Marthas?

I believe Martha and Mary are two faces of one holistic life rather than exclusive choices. We're called to be both Martha and Mary. To meditate on his law day and night, yet to bear fruit in season. To gaze on His face in the sanctuary and to do works of righteousness. To feed on Him, the bread of life on one hand, and to feed His sheep on the other. I guess, then, that the important message of Jesus' in Martha & Mary's house is not choosing one against the other, but choosing what comes before what.

Contemplation must precede action, and must be the heart of all action. Relationship must be central to our workmanship. As we receive love from the Father, we overflow with love for others. When we know His word on the matter, we neither run ahead or lag behind on the work at hand. Listening with loving attention tunes us to attend to others in love. If we chose to be Marys all the time, we soon become sedentary. If we were to be Marthas all the time, our spirits shrivel and we die standing. I need to be Mary before Martha, and Mary inside a Martha. In that way, I am choosing the 'better' thing.

Lord, let me be a Mary at heart. Gazing into Your loving eyes. Listening to Your words of healing. Simply being, and being loved. Let all that You are within me flow into everything I do. May my touch carry the weight of Your tender hands. May my every word and action be infused with Your grace and mercy


Post a Comment

<< Home