With the short story of Martha and Mary Luke relates the activity of caring in the “Good Samaritan” with the activity of praying in the beginning of chapter 11.
Both the caring and the praying are things we initiate. But Mary does not take initiative, she does not invite Jesus, she does not serve Jesus, she does not speak to Jesus, she just sits and listens to his word.
The question is what is the difference between the Samaritan and Martha? What is the difference between Martha’s request of Jesus and the prayer of the following verses? Both service and prayer require a certain amount of listening.
The trouble seems to be Martha being ‘distracted’ (v40). A word (perispao) that appears only once in the New Testament and means literally ‘to draw around’ but is used as being over-occupied about something. In this case it is being over occupied by (literally) ‘much service’.
Martha is too busy, mentally driven about by all the serving she is doing. That is recognisable and has nothing to do with either worship or contemplation being a “better part” than action. I wonder whether you could as easily be over occupied by prayer. Bob Bzz-y, bzz-y, bzz-y; busy as a bee; Martha was so busy she could hardly even breathe”.
17 July 2016
This weekly blog on one of the lectionary readings is by Anne Claar Thomasson-Rosingh, Programme Leader for Lifelong Learning at Sarum College.