Friday, 17 August 2012

Martha and Mary - A Christian Hospitality?


Please refer to Luke 10: 38-42.

Martha and Mary, Lazarus' sisters are wonderful examples of Christian Hospitality. When Martha and Mary are preached, we are led to make a conscious or subconscious choice. We either fit in Martha's shoes or in Mary's. We often get divided. For those of us who believe in keeping their houses functional and providing for visitors - we side with Martha, and for those of us who enjoy the love and companionship will side with Mary. 


Martha and Mary, by He Qi, China
I feel that many times Martha has been frowned upon. But in real life circumstances we know that even if we want to be Mary and sit at Jesus' feet we are forced to wear Martha's robe and are framed between the pots and pans. So my question is who should we strive to be Martha or Mary? Was Martha right when she asked Jesus to release her sister Mary so that she can help her? Or was Mary right to leave her sister alone to manage the household stuff and to care for Jesus as well as his disciples all by herself?

As I read the passage further, I find Jesus' response to Martha - a rebuke. So then what is a Christian Hospitality? Sitting and listening? Leaving your household chores to others? 

I am not siding with Martha or Mary here - but I think we need to bring a balance between these two sisters. We need to combine them - we can't have Martha without Mary or Mary without Martha.  We will have to wear Martha' apron as well as Mary's scarf. Neither of them are wrong. Both were struggling to meet the needs of their guest. Just that Martha was concerned about her guest's physical needs - providing food and drinks to meet the natural need and a cosy home to make him and his friends comfortable. While Mary was focused on Jesus' emotional need - a friend to talk to.

I guess this does happen to us as well - we get so entangled with household chores and showing off our hospitality skills - which might include - cooking, baking, sewing, cleaning, knitting, crafting etc.. that we forget how uncomfortable our guest might become as we represent ourselves so highly. Same goes with Mary's attitude - even though she has a listening ears and a gentle heart - she might totally forget to offer a glass of water or a simple meal to a starving stomach. 

We do not need a "Martha Stewart" Perfect Home for a Christian Hospitality. We don't need ONLY Martha or ONLY Mary - We NEED them BOTH.

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