Do you ever get anxious and/or distracted? I’m sure we all are anxious and/or distracted at one time or another. Maybe we are anxious more than we’re not or maybe we’re distracted most of the time. Maybe we have our priorities all turned around.
As Jesus was on the road to Jerusalem with his entourage of disciples and followers he decided to stop by Martha and Mary’s place. As was customary Martha set about preparing to feed all these folks. That’s what it meant to be hospitable in their culture. So whether it was Jesus and the Twelve or Jesus and the 70 he sent out to the villages and towns where he was going, it was going to take a lot of preparation to get a satisfying meal put together for all these hungry travelers. Martha may have been stressed out because she didn’t have enough of anything to prepare a sumptuous banquet for the Lord and his band of followers. Why was she alone? Where was her sister, Mary?
Mary was in the other room sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to him teach. Why didn’t she feel compelled to be in the other room helping her sister? Surely she knew the unwritten law that it was necessary to care for and provide hospitality for any guests or visitors who came to your door.
We can certainly understand why Martha came into the room and asked Jesus to tell her sister to come help with the meal preparations. But then the guest, who is really the host, turns it all around, “Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing.”
Was what Martha was doing wrong? Was it wrong for Mary to be sitting at the feet of Jesus as he taught? Neither was wrong. How were they to know what was the best things to do? How are we supposed to know what to do?
I believe the message for us today is that spending time at the feet of Jesus is important. Providing hospitality for those who come to our homes is important too. Being distracted and anxious all the time about doing and not focusing on the being can lead us away from the One who seeks to teach us about God and his kingdom.
This lesson isn’t about Martha and Mary and one being better than the other. It’s about choosing to let go of our distractions and anxieties and understanding the importance of sitting at Jesus’ feet so that we can be filled with his Spirit and Wisdom.
I think it’s a good exercise to every so often, maybe even daily, to look back at our day, or week, or month, and note how we used the time God gave us. How much time did we spend doing, feeding God’s children, and how much time did we spend being with Jesus? And how much time did we spend being anxious about not getting enough done? If we put it all in a pie chart what would be the biggest slice? Would they be equal in size or would our worrying and anxiety and distractions take up the lion’s share of our time?
I think that is what Jesus was trying to teach all of us. He had just told the lawyer that we should love our neighbor. He told the seventy that hospitality was important but now he is telling us that we need to be careful that we don’t make these our priorities. Our priority is to allow ourselves to be taught by the Master, Jesus. Our priority is to take time to be with Jesus before we go out into the world and do what we are called to do.
Mary chose the essential thing. What will we chose today and tomorrow and the day after? If we believe that we’re too busy to take time to sit at Jesus’ feet maybe we need to check our priorities. Maybe we need to reread today’s lesson in Luke’s gospel.
Let’s see where we spend our time this week. Let’s commit to spending more time at Jesus’ feet. Let’s get filled with Jesus’ love and Spirit before we go out to do his work. Let’s ask Jesus to remove our anxieties and distractions so we can focus on the essential thing.
Thanks be to God for his amazing grace and love. Amen.