As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (NLT)
The poet, T.S.Eliot, once wrote these words: “Teach us to care and not to care; teach us to sit still.” They remind us that while caring is an essential part of true humanity, there is a limit to caring. Some things are properly the objects of our care. Other things are not. If we decide not to care, we are not necessarily being selfish or cruel. We are acknowledging that we can’t do everything for everyone.
Some people are so laid back that they are “still” most of the time! But others are so hyper active that they are so busy doing things they have lost sight of why they are doing those things. We need to remember the old saying, only as we cease our restless doing will we find out what really needs to be done.
Unless we sit at the feet of Jesus in silence and stillness will we discern what we are to say and do when words and activity are needed. In this episode, Jesus is not saying that discipleship is passive. He is saying that if we are to be fruitful Marthas we need first become reflective Marys. He is talking about priorities.
Only as we cultivate inner and outer stillness will we be able to be wisely caring. When do we act? When do we recognise we can’t act? When do we speak and when do we remain silent? What shape will “caring” take? Quality time with Jesus is what will lead to quality caring for others.