A Choice of Perspectives: "Mary & Martha" Pt.1
Posted by Matthew
"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'
'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'”
ONLY ONE THING?!?
Who does Jesus think he is? 'One thing.' Ridiculous. Could you be any more over-simplistic than that? Who would actually take a teaching like this seriously? Maybe it made sense to the uneducated masses of ancient Palestine but it certainly doesn't make sense to anyone with half a brain in this day and age. It doesn't take a college degree to realize that this whole 'one thing' business is not going to get you very far in life.
But it doesn't end there, friends.
The absurdity of the story is not merely expressed in the outrageous statement Jesus makes about only 'one thing' being needed but also in his reaction to Martha. In an act that defies logical comprehension, Jesus chastises Martha for her hard work and concern for getting things ready (for his sake, I might add), while Mary is praised for an act that reeks of pure, self-centered laziness. "Why should I bother helping," she may have thought, "since my sister will just take care of everything like she always does?" Mary is congratulated for expressing the maturity and responsibility of a ten-year-old, whereas Martha is scolded for attempting to serve her 'master.'
Maybe in his insular world, Jesus didn't realize that most people don't have disciples fawning all over them, willing to cook their meals and offer them places to sleep as they wander around aimlessly from town to town, doing some magic tricks and giving inspirational talks, like a cross between David Copperfield and Tony Robbins.
The arrogance doesn't end there, however, because he has the audacity to criticize his one follower who's actually preparing the food he's going to eat, in favour of her doe-eyed sister who's clearly so enraptured by her powerful teacher that she's oblivious to the fact that the earth is still turning.
I have no doubt that Jesus was giving a riveting discourse on some deeply important subject but to make such an audacious claim that only 'one thing' is needed - and that this 'one thing' happens to be giving him your undivided attention - is an expression of a narcissism so grandiose that it can hardly be comprehended by us 'mortal' folk.
This is how cult's start: take one charismatic leader with a messiah complex, stir in a group of fanatical devotees who lack rational discrimination, add a dash of utopian idealism, and sprinkle generously with self-insulating arrogance. Bake for thirty minutes and...voila!
Martha seems like one of the few followers of Jesus that actually had her head screwed on straight and wasn't willing to compromise what she knew to be true, even when it went against her teacher's absurd demands. Martha wasn't as foolish and naive as Mary - she could think for herself didn't need anyone to save her. She was concerned about an inconsistency she saw in this supposed 'spiritual master' and she can hardly be faulted for that!
Martha didn't live in a bubble, she saw the bigger picture and was willing to act on it.
Just like Judas.