Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Lk 10:38-42
Motto: „Martha welcomed him” – The Maria-Martha conflict is as ancient as the rivalry between Kain and Abel, but not as bloody. First of all, it shines light on the struggle for dominance between siblings. Kevin Leman describes in „The Birth Order Book” how the order of birth influences the development of our personality. Surely, even without a book on psychology every parent can notice that their first born behaves differently from the younger siblings – being more orderly, more disciplined, striving for success etc. According to the evangelist Luke, Maria is the first born, but from the description we recognise in Martha the typical older sibling. We do not know whether Lazarus is her younger or her older brother. However, Martha shows the characteristics of the first born as it is her who invites Jesus. She is initiating things. And it is her who runs the household. She wants to determine everything to the detail and therefore it upsets her that Maria „has chosen the better part”, even though according to a worldly set of values it is considered of lesser value to just sit quietly and listen. Running the household is of higher value. To put it differently: the story points beyond the never-ending dispute whether contemplative prayer or active charity work are higher in their value. The story deals with the question whether we can accept ourselves and others, our brothers and sisters, the way they are. If we ponder a little bit about this question, then we can understand that the genuine love of neighbour depends on small things.
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 21.07.2019
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