I found a quote recently that talked about that old biblical concept of man not living by bread alone. It was really good, very inspiring and high-falutin’. But I couldn’t help but think about a certain family I know in my community who doesn’t throw out moldy bread because they don’t have extra money to buy fresh bread. When their cupboards are empty, my friend is quick to remind me that for her the “bread of life” is not a concept, it is an “ask”. She has four hungry children to feed – she needs bread so that her children might live! Which brings me to the story of Mary and Martha…
38 While Jesus and his disciples were traveling, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his message. 40 By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me.” 41 The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. 42 One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
This is one of my favorite bible stories. I love it because I think it illustrates the possibility of thinking about the “bread of life” as carbs, calories, and food for the soul. At first glance it might appear that Jesus is valuing Mary’s commitment to listen over Martha’s gift of hospitality and famous homemade biscuits. But that’s only the first glance reading and those often miss the mark. Think about this. Jesus is getting ready to sit down to a delicious 5-star meal prepared by Martha – there is absolutely no way that Jesus is suggesting Martha abandon her hosting duties and join Mary on a prayer rug. What he is saying is that Martha’s anxiety, her judgment of Mary, her self-pity, has earned her a gentle rebuke. I like to imagine Martha after the last dishes are put away and she’s had a good night’s sleep. I dare to dream that she takes Jesus’ words to heart and realizes that her anxiety may be more about self-doubt than hosting angst (although I get that too). Maybe she worries that she isn’t as spiritual as Mary. I hope that she thinks long and hard about what Jesus really said. He pointed to Mary and said she has chosen the better part – that which is hers to do. He asks Martha to stop demanding that Mary act like her; but he does not ask Martha to turn into Mary either.
I don’t know what you are created to think, feel, and do. But I pray that you find, as Mary has and I hope Martha did, an acceptance of your place in the story that transcends your need to pay much attention to the roles and responsibilities of others – who no doubt have a different set of spiritual drives and responsibilities. After all, the only person who can live your life is….you. Flourish!