2022-07-17 - Over Growing the Martha Mentality. A reflection for 16th Sunday in the Ordinary Time, Year C Author: Fr. Donatus Okafor
Readings: Genesis 18:1-10a; Colossians 1:24-28; Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
One may ask, what if Jesus did not tell Martha, that Mary has taken the better part; would we have faulted Martha? Most likely, No. Why should Martha even complain about Mary’s disposition? She (Martha) has chosen to serve, why not allow the other be? Is it possible that she did not do the work with her whole heart? What if Mary joined Martha to serve; who would have listened to Jesus? Would Jesus not have felt lonely? Would it not have looked as if Jesus was hungry and he came to eat?
Whenever we come across the story of the visit of Jesus to the house of Martha and Mary, there is always a tendency to blame Martha. However, the service that Martha rendered was a good one. If not for the words of Christ, many of us would have praised Martha and chided Mary, for their actions respectively. A major fault of Martha was that she failed to know what the master wants at that particular time.
In the First Reading, Abraham played host to three strangers who turned to be from God. He was sensitive to have observed their needs at that time (a bit rest, and some refreshment). His hospitality merited him a son. In the Second Reading, St. Paul showed himself as a model of service to Christ and the Church. This is a true sign of hospitality. In the Gospel, Jesus visited the house of two sisters – Martha and Mary. They both played host to Jesus. While Martha showed hospitality to Jesus through service; Mary’s hospitality was seen through listening to Jesus.
OVERGROWING THE ‘MARTHA-MENTALITY’.
“But Martha was distracted with so much serving” (v40a).
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” (v40b)
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion” (vv41-42).
From the above, it is clear that Christ did not categorically judge Martha’s service as wrong. He rather placed Mary’s ‘attention’ above Martha’s service. So, like Christ we do not condemn Martha. Some aspects of Martha’s life in us that we need to modify include:
1. Martha was too busy that she did not find time for Jesus. Those with ‘Martha-mentality’ are those who are too busy for the Lord. They do not have time to visit the Blessed Sacrament. You see majority of them in the choir, MOD, Church warden, Altar servers and some workers who do not listen to homilies; always distracted in the Church. We must grow above the ‘Martha-mentality’ by dedicating some time for Jesus. Jesus constantly waits for us.
2. Martha complained that she was the only person working. Those with ‘Martha-mentality’ often complain that they are the only one working in the Church; they have been donating in the Church for a long time. In the family, in the office, community or school they will always carry long faces due to none performance of others. They have the ‘holier-than thou mentality’. We must grow above the ‘Martha-mentality’ by not being judgmental.
3. Martha must have over labored herself and yet had no time to rest. Those with ‘Martha-Mentality’ are those who work from week to week, month to month, year to year without finding time to rest or even enjoying their wealth. They do not put on good wears, nor eat adequate diet. We must grow above the ‘Martha-mentality’ by having time to rest, relax and going for vacation.
4. Martha did not set her priorities right. Martha chose service above listening to the Word of God; whereas it should be the opposite. Those with ‘Martha-mentality’ will always do the right thing at the wrong time.
5. Martha must have acted on the Jewish custom that relegated women. A woman is not supposed to sit with men at the feet of the teacher. Many cultures in our world today still consider the position of women in the kitchen. Sarah in the First Reading was busy preparing food for the guests. Mary however, halted this custom of gender marginalization. Christ did not fault her because the kingdom he preached knows no distinction. We must grow above the ‘Martha-mentality’ of allowing ourselves to be marginalized or taken for granted.
6. Martha’s action showed that she seeks more of external things than spiritual. Those with ‘Martha-mentality’ want to show case themselves; always fascinated by material and temporal things. We must grow above the ‘Martha-mentality’ by seeking the spiritual and eternal things.
Also, those with ‘Martha-mentality’ are proud, jealous, envy and perfectionists.
Beloved in Christ, what is needful for us is to be near Jesus. We must choose this because, cut off from him, we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). May we never Labour in Vain.
May God help us!!!