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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, July 24, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 10:38–42

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her, then, to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, but few things are needed—indeed only one. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (NRSV)

Perhaps this passage from Luke, which follows the Parable of the Good Samaritan, was written as an extension of the parable’s lesson: all are called to minister (serve) in the world through love to build the kingdom of God. Perhaps Luke has positioned this story here because it offers its listeners instructions about how to prepare yourself to serve, minister to, and love your neighbor.

On the surface, it seems as though Jesus is undermining the rules of hospitality for a first-century Palestinian Jewish household. As a woman, Mary would be expected to assist Martha in serving the men, not recline to listen and learn from Jesus. This is countercultural. This is not the way of the world, but it is the way of the Lord. Perhaps Jesus is not chastising Martha’s seeming churlishness but is inviting her to stop—stop and listen to the Living Word of God, stop and focus on what is happening in this one moment in time rather than fussing.

Here is Jesus the Christ, God’s Word made flesh in her own home, and Martha is focused on the world, not on what God has given her. Jesus is not telling her that her work is unimportant; he is saying it is not important in this moment. He is telling her that Mary’s work of listening to and learning from the Word is what is important in this moment. Jesus is not excusing Mary from her work. She is listening now to be fully prepared for her work of serving (ministry).

Perhaps the one thing needed is understanding that serving others (ministry) must be rooted in the Word before it can be embodied in the world. This is a pericope of both–and not either–or.

Good and gracious God, slow my busyness today that I might hear your Word more clearly and carry it within my heart. Give me the courage to move through this day to serve others as Jesus served and to be a vessel of your love in this hurting world. Amen.

Written by Annette Mileski, Director, Center for Life and Learning

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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