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Martha and Mary


LUKE 10:38-42

reflectionstodayJesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Sitting at the feet of the divine master

Jesus comes to Bethany, not to join a big gathering but to enjoy the quiet company of his friends Martha and Mary. On his way to Jerusalem to encounter the religious and political leaders, Jesus has disturbing premonitions but knows that his direction is towards the holy city. The company of familiar faces and kindred spirits will be a solace for Jesus.

The Gospel describes Mary in a discomfiting, even scandalous, posture. She is seated at the feet of Jesus! To the Jews, no self-respecting woman would sit at a man’s feet, and Jesus is not even a blood relative! (Is a male sibling around—Lazarus perhaps?)

Jesus’ teaching Mary is proof that he views woman as equal to man. Women students of theology take this gospel portrait to heart, interpreting this encounter as encouragement to enter into a discipline of learning previously exclusive to men.

In contrast to the listening Mary, Martha is very practical and result-oriented. She represents the typical workaholic constantly saddled with workload, with nary a time left for introspection or personal leisure.

Jesus teaches Martha to confront and slay her “inner demons.” He invites her to let go of her anxiety and, like her sister, listen to him speak. After all, he did not come for a grand meal; he came to be among dear friends, to enjoy their company one last time.

Jesus’ loving “reprimand” of Martha can enlighten us when we get out of focus in the pursuit of our daily tasks and duties. We must learn to sit at the feet of the Divine Master and return to this posture when we are in the thick of our mission.

It sounds simple, yet easily ignored. We all need a spiritual compass, otherwise we will keep running around like Martha, doing work for God but neglecting the God of work. If we can grow familiar with our friends, or with our favorite celebrities, what is preventing us from getting familiar with the Lord?

SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2019,” ST. PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 632-895-9701; Fax 632-895-7328; E-mail:; Website:


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