So, I discussed St. Martha the other day and her trials and tribulations with learning to slow it down and listen to Jesus first and attend to her duties second, which is something I struggle with daily myself. However, there is lots of help in this department because we have several ladies, including Martha herself, to help guide us to the path to Jesus. Martha didn’t have to look farther than her own household to have an example.
Mary of Bethany
Like I said…I assume Mary is the younger sister. Martha sure felt she had to take on the brunt of the burden, which is a feeling older siblings know all too well. I can almost feel the resentment in Martha’s chest as she looks out from the kitchen and sees her perfect little sister sitting rapt-eyed staring into the visage of Jesus, wishing SHE had all the time in the world to sit still and get attention like Mary. I feel ya, girl. You and I feel like this:
But Mary is not some “perfect”, pesky, lazy little sister. She represents how we SHOULD prioritize our lives. How many days (um..pretty much everyday) do we neglect our relationship with Our Lord? How many times does He call to us and we say, “Oh, yes, I really should go to Adoration…maybe if I get the house cleaned and finish dinner in time…”? And yeah, the person Jesus ain’t chillin’ in our living room right now and bills gotta get paid and people gotta eat…but ..but…There are no buts, really. Did Jesus not say He doesn’t forget the ravens, and how much more He loves us? Did God not say that we should trust in Him for our every need? I wonder how wonderful, or at least very different, my life would be if I could just remember to put God first and trust in Him to give me the time and energy to fulfill my necessary, but not-so-necessary tasks of life? I bet I would be like She-ra or Wonder Woman…or like Mary!!!!
God provided me with the blessings I have, the very breath I take and my ability to work and create…but it was all meant to serve Him. And serving Him is not servitude…it sets us free. Free to work and provide for ourselves and others with the blessings he will heap upon us. Free to join Him in the place He prepared for us with many (spotless) mansions. My dirty floor, hungry tummy, unfolded laundry, and vicious cycle of bills make me a servant in the truest sense of the word, and without the grace of God, I would never be free of them. With His grace and listening to His Word, I certainly will be.
Later, after Lazarus was raised the dead, and about a week before Jesus himself would be crucified, Jesus and his disciples ate another fabulous home-cooked meal made by Martha, who did not utter a peep of protest when her sister Mary again showed her profound devotion to our Lord. Mary did something quite unheard of and quite controversial–she really stuck her neck out, so to speak, to demonstrate her love of Jesus. Mary anointed Jesus’s feet with oil. It already sounds weird to us today, but her act speaks volumes that would have easily been understood and quite shocking to those present:
- The fact that Mary, one of the hostesses, was washing anyone’s feet, rather than a servant doing it was absurd to them. She was showing that she was indeed a servant of the Lord.
- Mary used costly perfume oil that cost about a year’s worth of pay for the average working man. More than likely, the only steady income these women had came from their brother, Lazarus. As the man of the house, he would have been responsible for providing the dowries for both Mary and Martha, without which they may not find husbands. Often oils and perfumes were an investment because their value could be negotiated in the market. Mary, quite literally, just gave her future to Jesus.
- Mary then used her HAIR to rub the oil into Jesus’s feet. A woman did not uncover her head back then in public or in front of any man other than her husband. Mary showed no shame or self-consciousness in this act, not because she was being bold or forward or trying to be imprudent. She believed wholeheartedly that Jesus was the Messiah and she was giving herself, her heart, her future to God, who created her. She knew that Jesus in His flesh and blood form was not long to be with them and she wanted to show Him physically, while she had the chance, that she did believe Him.
Mary did what so many of us are afraid to do even today. Jesus had not yet performed His greatest miracle, but she already believed in Him. We have much more evidence than she had that He was God, and yet we are afraid to give all of ourselves to Him and afraid to live our faith publicly. Mary did not rebuke anyone that chastised her that day. She simply did what she was called to do for her Lord and acted out of love and let Jesus chide the others as He thought fitting. Sometimes if we do try to live our faith publicly and we are chastised by others, we tend to “fight” back and rebuke others, taking matters into our hands. We are not called to do this, but instead to continually love and give our all to God. It is He who gets to judge those who don’t believe, as He sees fit.
Sweet, silent, listening Mary, please tear me a leaf from your book and show me how to be quiet and still and absorb Jesus and His blessings. Teach me also how to give all of myself in love to Christ, and show love and kindness to all, even when I am persecuted.
For my next post, I will take a little break from this series to share a deeply personal story in honor of the Respect Life week. I will pick up with this series after that 🙂