Tuesday, 29 July 2008

My Ruminations

Referring to the daily reading taken from Luke 10: 38-42 (about Martha and Mary), here are some of my thoughts on the story:

Isn't the story a familiar one? One sister/relative/friend/colleague does all the work, while the other sits around. And don't we (almost automatically) sympathize with the working one, as if sitting around isn't "work"? 'Cause technically sitting is an action word, which means something is being done, and when something is being done the someone doing the something is working at it. (But I digress. Moving on.)
There is this assumption that the person working hard deserves acclamation and aid (this assumption is especially strong in that person's mind!) and thus has the right to expect others not working as hard as he/she to give aforementioned acclamation and aid. Thus to Martha whatever Mary is doing is of less importance compared to what she is doing, since Mary is just sitting around. What's more, Martha expects that her bustling around serving the Lord is of utmost importance, and the Lord should agree with her (note how she tells Him off for not instructing Mary to help her). Thus she reduced the Lord to the status of a honored guest, no different from any other VVIP. She failed to realize that the Lord was more interested in her attention rather than her service. After all, He came to serve, not to be served. He came to teach and save, not to be lavishly treated like the pharisees and scribes of His time.
Don't we all act like this sometimes? We feel that our hard work deserves something of equal value in return, and we force this assumption on those around us. So if we do not get our just rewards we react negatively. It is as if without that reward we would stop working (at least as hard as we have done before). Our service of God and His church should not be reward-oriented but love-oriented. We give because we love, and if we can't love then we don't give. We sacrifice our time and sweat for others, and if they don't appreciate our time and sweat we shrug it off. Most important of all, we check with God whether what we are doing is right with Him. Are we doing what He wants us to do? Just because an action seems right doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. Martha's bustling around is definitely right, but the right thing to do would have been sitting at Jesus' feet listening to Him. And never ever demand that God acknowledges our work in ways we deem proper.
There is a time for bustling around in service, and a time for sitting down quietly listening to God. Let us pray that He will give us the discernment to know when to do which.

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