Two ways of existence of human life: Martha and Mary

Thoughts about the right way of serving and the relationship with Jesus
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

1. The truth of Martha. A lot of Marthas have always served others. The typical "Martha-behavior" is the idea of the perfectly working family. But this "dream-Martha" sometimes freaks out. "I have done so much right for the people around her but they do not help me at all... Moreover, they do not even notice or appreciate my hard work either. They never say a kind word to me! They let me work myself to death, lying silent, unsympathetically and sluggishly. I wish someone would ever move!" In such a case Martha shouts or maybe cries. There is nothing more legitimate than her anger and sorrow. Isn’t there? (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

2. The truth of Mary. Why does not Jesus set Martha as a good example for us? What would we do without Marthas? Why is Mary the role model who does not do anything? "This Martha is a self-sacrificing saint!" Is she really a saint? What do we think, does it happen so frequently that our Lord’s only-begotten Son knocks on our door and starts to teach us there? How do we think about Jesus? Like a piece of furniture in our room? No way!!! We do not dictate to Jesus when, how much, what and how He should share with us. The relationship with Jesus is not symmetrical. It is not a relationship on an equal footing. We have only one thing to do in our whole lives: to adapt to Jesus. Completely. This is what Mary did. That is why Mary IS the role model and NOT Martha — who rebuked the Lord. The creature may not rebuke the Creator. A part may not act as it was bigger than the Whole. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 

3. The truth of Jesus. Mary’s truth is the example, who recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, recognizes the peculiarity of the moment, sits down to Jesus’ feet and fully immerses in the strength and miracle of God’s presence. But the story does not end here. Jesus does not invite us to sit down at his feet and stay there for the rest of our lives. Jesus initiates an Action in us. But one thing makes a big difference. The order. If we act first and do not listen to Jesus before, we will do things our own way. If we listen to Jesus first and we start acting afterwards, we will do it exactly when and how He has shown us. With this our lives fall into their proper place. (If you would like to know more about this, please read my essay here.)

 


 

1. The truth of Martha

 

"Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord's feet, heard his word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Lucas 10:38-42)

 

There are quite a lot of people (being women or men) who feel close themselves to Martha in the above story. They dedicate all their active lives to serve others. They bustle around, they are whirls of activity. A lot of Marthas have not ever worked for their own sake but they have always served others. They have prepared food, put the house in order, tidied up, washed the clothes, risen a lot of children – or as men: have always done their job, fixed everything immediately it went wrong, played a lot with the kids, regularly involved them in sports, no-one ever lacked anything in their surroundings, the house and the family have been always enriched and become finer. If I told an average young person today the previous sentence he would interrupt me saying: "Peter, this is so 'nice' that it does not exist anymore." And indeed: the typical "Martha-behavior" is the idea of the perfectly working family. But this "dream-Martha" sometimes freaks out. "I have done so much right for the people around her but they do not help me at all... Moreover, they do not even notice or appreciate my hard work either. They never say a kind word to me! They let me work myself to death, lying silent, unsympathetically and sluggishly. I wish someone would ever move!" In such a case Martha shouts or maybe cries. There is nothing more legitimate than her anger and sorrow. Isn’t there?

 


 

2. The truth of Mary

 

In the light of the above the question really makes us think: Why does not Jesus set Martha as a good example for us? What would we do without Marthas? Why is Mary the role model who does not do anything? In the Bible story, if Martha did not bustle around, the whole group of people would be starving! Would they really be starving? Jesus?? Jesus, who fed five thousand people in the middle of nowhere??? I can hear the Reader’s voice: "Peter, you are unfair with Martha. Martha is a self-sacrificing saint!" Is she really a saint? What do we think, does it happen so frequently that our Lord’s only-begotten Son knocks on our door and starts to teach us there? How do we think about Jesus? Like a piece of furniture in our room? (There hangs Jesus on the living room’s wall between the wedding photo and grandpa’s picture...) What we put on the wall (and take off from there...) when we feel like it? Because Jesus is our property! The price label still hangs on the back... No way!!! We do not dictate to Jesus when, how much, what and how He should share with us. The relationship with Jesus is not symmetrical. It is not a relationship on an equal footing. (You, my Lord, have redeemed the world, while I have cooked the soup for lunch. 1 to1. I have done my part, Lord, it is your turn again...) The relationship with Jesus does not work without our total acceptance, reception and humility. It is not us who dictates the rules of the relationship with Jesus. We do not have to be saints in the way we think (because it is not saintliness but imprisoning ourselves to our ego, which, if being complete, becomes the opposite of saintliness: damnation), but exclusively in the way Jesus thinks about us to be. We have only one thing to do in our whole lives: to adapt to Jesus. Completely. This is what Mary did. That is why Mary IS the role model and NOT Martha — who rebuked the Lord. Jesus is not a guest in OUR house. We are the guests in our "own" house. Because it is Jesus’ House. We are Jesus’ guests. In our whole lives — always. All the way from the moment of our birth till the moment of our death. Those who want to save Martha, often say that in the Gospel of John, Martha went out to meet Jesus, while Mary stayed at home. Martha has demonstrated the resurrection and Christ, while Mary has not (John 11:20-27). And this is all true. But also in the Gospel of John, the same Martha "knows it better" than God’s Son what God should have done: "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." (John 11:21) Martha rebukes Jesus here, too (and it is not diminished by the fact that Mary joins her; John 11:32b). The creature, the dust may not rebuke the Creator, the Universe. A part may not act as it was bigger than the Whole.

 


 

3. The truth of Jesus

 

So we have seen that Martha’s truth only appears to be truth. I am good in vain if I am good only my way (I am good according to the customs, I am good according to the laws), and in the meantime I do not recognize the Lord. We have also seen that Mary’s truth is the example, who recognizes Jesus as the Son of God, recognizes the peculiarity of the moment, sits down to Jesus’ feet and fully immerses in the strength and miracle of God’s presence. But the story does not end here. Jesus does not invite us to sit down at his feet and stay there for the rest of our lives. Jesus initiates Action in us. But one thing makes a big difference. The order. If we act first and do not listen to Jesus before, we will do things our own way. However Martha’s truth cannot be compared to Jesus’ truth. If we listen to Jesus first and we start acting afterwards, we will do it exactly when and how He has shown us. With this our lives fall into their proper place, because Jesus instructs us what, when and how exactly we do what is right – and what is the only right way in that moment.

 

 

Key topics: 

Key words: