|Duet, Mary & Martha, 40” bronze sculpture by Annette Everett, artist|
This part of her lesson had a lot of meaning to her and so I include it here:
The story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10) has always interested, and confused, me. Most are familiar with the short account of Mary sitting at the feet of the Savior feasting on his words, while Martha tried to feed their guests without the help she was accustomed to getting from Mary.
When you view this account as a comment on the relative merits of serving other people vs. listening to the Savior, it can get even more confusing, since the Lord commands us to both serve and also listen at his feet.
Prof. Catherine Corman Parry gave an insightful talk (BYU devotional, 7 May 1991, Simon, I Have Somewhat to Say Unto Thee: Judgment and Condemnation in the Parables of Jesus), seeing this account as a comment on judging, rather than on housework vs. listening to Jesus as we often view it. (Most stories in the scriptures can be profitably looked at from many angles).
Prof. Parry pointed out that Jesus was willing to have Martha serve him in whatever way seemed right to her. He didn’t go into the kitchen to ask her to leave her serving and come listen. It wasn’t until she judged Mary’s choice to listen (“Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me…”) as being inferior to her own choice to serve that the Savior had something to say.
He lovingly acknowledged Martha’s service and concern for others (“Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things…”). But then He corrected her for her self-righteous judgment of Mary’s choice. He took the standard of judgment Martha was using on Mary (which was that Martha’s way of doing things was better), flipped it around, and applied it to her, and by that standard Martha came up short. The Savior said, “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken from her.”
There will always be too much for women to do: homes to run, people to be fed, clothed, and taken care of. These are the noble tasks the Lord has given to women to do – to nurture, care for and love others. But the inability to leave these day-to-day tasks long enough to listen to the Savior (or in our case, to read the scriptures and words of the prophets), is a common problem. Like Martha, we’re just too busy. Service is vital, but not to the exclusion of feeding our spirits.
The other lesson I’m trying to keep in mind more is that whatever measuring stick we use to assess others will be used on us.
“With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matt 7:2) is meant to be taken seriously. If we can look at others with their sins, mistakes, annoying mannerisms, destructive behavior, etc. and not lose sight of how much they are loved by the Lord, we are probably on the right path. I’m working on this!
Owenna Nagy, 8/2/2012
Thanks for the clarity with which you teach us Owenna.