As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Are you Mary or are you Martha? I know have always been more of a Martha, hurried and rushed, busy in the kitchen making last minute preparations, grumbling that no one is there to help me. Inside. Making sure everything is “just so”. Table, perfectly set. Food, perfectly prepared. Wine, perfectly chilled. Candles perfectly lit. Behind the scenes. Away. Alone.
How much did I miss, hiding in the kitchen while others sat around the table “doing what was needed?”. How many sweet and tender conversations must have taken place between loved ones while I was putting the last touches on the creme brulee? How much did others learn about life and about each other while I was complaining that no one helped me? And how much time did I complain so loudly that my voice drowned out the touch of angels that had taken residence in my house?
Jesus was not saying that it is OK to let everything go to pot or to ignore our guests' needs. But he was saying that there are times to be in the kitchen and there are times to be sitting at his feet, taking a break, savouring his words, and comfort a friend in need. You see, Jesus’ heart was heavy, on his way to the final days of his life, with the dire certainty of what was about to happen, the inevitability of the suffering to come, the gripping sadness of all those who were about to turn their backs on him. At this moment, you see, Jesus needed his friends more than food, more than drink and maybe much more than his friends needed him.
As Mary sat at his feet - mind you, every time we meet Mary she is at the Savior’s feet — giving him the last hours of unconditional love and comfort he would feel on this earth, Martha was inside making chicken soup and complaining about her sister!
How many critical moments in your life have you missed because you thought you were doing the right thing when only one thing was needed?
Today, on Yom Kippur, take the time to be Mary. Sit at someone's feet. Listen. Love. Comfort. Do what is needed.