I’ll Be There in a Minute (Sixteenth Ordinary)

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it – it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her”. (Luke 10: 41 – 42)

Though I readily emphasise with Mary’s poor, beleaguered sister, Martha, I think we do the gospel a disservice when we pass her off as a fussbudget hostess whom Jesus gives a little set down. Martha’s anxiety goes much deeper than that.

What keeps Martha from listening to Jesus? She has many duties and concerns: The food needs to be prepared and people need to be served. Certainly those are important tasks. The issue isn’t that Martha chooses to tend to her guests; it’s that she is keeping herself busy and distracted so that she doesn’t have to face Jesus.

How often do we do the same? We don’t mind having Jesus within earshot, but we don’t want him so close that we can’t avoid his gaze. The last thing we want is for God to ask more of us. But God doesn’t relent. The message is clear: We are called to be with Jesus. Many of us, like Martha, aren’t ready to follow because we worry about the high cost of discipleship. So we make excuses and even try to pull others from their attentiveness to God to make ourselves feel better. We go to great lengths to avoid divine expectations that we be good and giving people, which may include some worldly discomfort or suffering. But the truth is we’re going to suffer. So ask yourselves this question: Would you rather suffer with Christ, or without him? Choose the better part.

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