By: Esther Espinoza
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!” Luke 10:39-40(NIV)
“My idea of serving dinner is not flat bread, goats’ cheese with a few sprigs of green and fruit! I need to treat my guests like kings. Especially when Jesus is visiting!” My blood starts to boil as I try to explain to my bother Lazarus the reason I’m in a frenzy.
“Jesus is very laid back, you know he wouldn’t mind if you serve just flat bread and goats’ cheese. He’s…”
“Lazarus! Please. Just leave my kitchen!” I thrust my index finger towards the doorway and wait for him to leave.
He looks at me, shakes his head and starts to walk away. Then he stops.
“Why isn’t Mary helping you?”
I open my mouth, then shut it closed. Good question. Why isn’t Mary helping me?
“Just a thought!” Lazarus walks away leaving my mind in knots.
Earlier that day, when Jesus had arrived with the disciples, Mary started helping me in the kitchen. It was a real honour for us to have guests. Our home is our sanctuary; a sacred place where we feed the mind, body and soul.
While I made the dough for the bread, I sent Mary to take water to Jesus and the disciples to wash their dusty feet.
In my busyness, I didn’t realise that she hadn’t returned.
Where could this girl be?
I wipe my floury hands on a cloth and peek out of the kitchen, but cannot see her anywhere. They must have moved to the front of the house. I start to head that way, but the strong smell of delicious hot bread reminds me that if I leave it in any longer, it will burn.
Reluctantly, I return and check on my bread. It looks perfect. I smile in satisfaction. I take my bread out, place it in baskets and cover it. Good, that’s ready. Now I need the dips to go along with my bread. Hummus and Za’atar would do nicely.
I also need to bake some fish and serve that along with a few green sprigs. I also have to get dates, cheese, fruit and olive oil in dishes ready to serve. I run around looking for pottery dishes to serve the food. I have so much to do!
Suddenly I feel overwhelmed. I haven’t even set the table yet! Angry tears threaten and I wipe them furiously. I just want to curl up, give up, and cry.
Lazarus words echo in my mind, “Why isn’t Mary helping you?”
Indeed! Why isn’t she helping me? I look up and my tears disappear. I can feel the anger creeping into my soul and the venom of my thoughts spill furiously over one another.
How dare Mary not help me! She’s probably prancing about in front of the disciples – trying to get their attention!! Hah, but Jesus would put her in her place. He is a righteous man and will not tolerate it. Oh, how I would love to see her face when Jesus tells her to behave accordingly. Hah!
Stop it! Stop it! I shake my head and try desperately to rid myself of the negative thoughts. My sister isn’t like that. Why am I being so sensitive?
I look around the mess in the kitchen and know why. My blood boils over. I throw the dishcloth across the bench. That’s it! I’m not taking it anymore! I’m going to get that girl in here.
The coolness outside the kitchen is wonderful, the big open window on my right lets fresh air circulate through the house, keeping the rooms fresh.
From outside the window, I hear Peter telling Lazarus about the miracles Jesus did in the previous town, the other disciples adding their bit. I would like to hear about that! No Mary in there, though. I walk to the front of the house before I spot her.
And there she is, sitting on the floor at Jesus feet nodding intently to what he is saying. I hear his clear voice talking about eternal life and his father. Mary nods in agreement and asks him a question I cannot hear.
I seethe. So whilst I’m slaving away in the kitchen, she’s listening to nice stories!
I enter the room and blurt out, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?”
Mary jumps to her feet, “Oh! Sorry Martha! I got distracted.”
I look at Jesus for support, “Tell her to help me!” I demand. Why isn’t he saying anything? I realise my hand is on my hip and I’m glaring at him. I quickly drop my arm.
Jesus stand up and walks over to me, he puts one hand on my shoulder and says, “Martha, Martha. You are worried and upset about many things.”
“Yes I am! Mary should be in the kitchen helping me cook, yet I find her here enjoying your stories. It’s not fair!” I glare daggers at Mary.
She looks down, “Sorry.”
She’s humiliated. Now, Jesus, make her help me.
I lift an eyebrow and look at him, waiting for him to tell Mary how thoughtless she’s been.
Jesus eyes soften as he speaks the next words, “Martha, few things are needed in this world. In fact, there is only one thing that’s really needed.”
“Let me tell you that Mary has chosen what is better, and I won’t take it away from her.”
I look at Mary. She shrugs at me. Jesus walks away from us and looks out the eastern window at the rolling hill in the distance. Wind blows in and rustles his hair. There seems to be a light coming from his face, peace and serenity invade the room. I’m suddenly ashamed.
His words click in my mind and I understand. Mary had chosen the better path. Here I’ve been in a ball of frenzy trying to please and impress; yet, all he wants from me is my heart. He wants me to sit at his feet and listen to stories about his father and his love too.
I head back to the kitchen. In the distance I hear Jesus’ fatherly voice say to Mary, “It’s also important to share the work. Help your sister, Mary.”
Her soft steps follow me towards the kitchen. She’s such a good sister and I’m sorry for being so angry with her.
I turn and wait for her to catch up. Seeing my beaming face, she gives a little clap and hugs me.
“Oh, Martha, the story that Jesus was telling me were amazing! I’m so sorry I lost track of time. Honestly, I never meant to.”
I nod and smile, “Tell me the stories as we cook.”
Mary starts her chatter and I laugh. She doesn’t need a second invitation.