Read Luke 10:38-42
38-40 As they continued their journey,Jesus came to a village and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister by the name of Mary who settled down at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was very worried about her elaborate preparations and she burst in,saying,”Lord,don’t you mind that my sister has left me to do everything by myself? Tell her to get up and help me!”
41-42 But the Lord answered her,”Martha,my dear,you are worried and bothered about providing so many things. Only a few things are really needed,perhaps only one. Mary has chosen the best part and you must not tear it away from her!” (JBP)
The poet T.S. Eliot wrote the lines,”Teach us to care and not to care,teach us to sit still”. A reminder to us that there is a right and wrong sort of caring. Perhaps exemplified by the contrast between Martha and Mary. Martha’s sort of care was of the anxious and distracted sort. Mary’s care was of the settled and fruitful sort.
This text is no invitation to idleness or endless dreamy introspection. It is a reminder of priorities. If we are to care wisely and fruitfully,we first need to sit still,to discern from Jesus just what it is we are to care about. And how we are to exercise that care. Otherwise we care for the wrong things in the wrong way.
Or we might find ourselves unable to set boundaries on our caring. For example,we might care about our son or daughter but ought not to let that care become control or endless anxiety. True care may involve some detachment in order that we may care more wisely.
Of course we care for others,for the world,for ourselves. But there is a limit to what we can do. Not observing that limit is to turn godly care into ungodly anxiety. The key to caring lies in being still for it is in the stillness that we get wisdom. Before becoming a fruitfully active Martha,we need to become a still and discerning Mary.