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  • Gosford Anglican Blog

Mary and Martha of Bethany

Remembering Mary and Martha is appropriate mid-week. If Sunday is a day of attentiveness ‘choosing the better way,’ then at the midweek point we may well be ‘distracted by many tasks!’ As this story tells us Mary and Martha take up these different roles. We’ve heard many sermons on this! We relate to one or the other; we feel sorry for Martha! But, as with other stories in our scripture, we also need to heed the culture of that day and ours. They all spoke out of a particular community life and culture and sometimes, to our ears, those stories suggest actions by God that we can’t accept (I am also recalling our Sunday night conversations from Genesis.) I do not want to enter into the debate about the value of Mary’s actions compared to Martha’s or suggest we try to identify with one or the other. Rather I suggest we hear this in the light of social custom of that day. Mary was actually breaking social custom, by quietly taking the role of males. Martha was concerned that Mary keep to the traditional way of behaving. And this is what Jesus affirms. He is encouraging Mary to think and learn; he upholds her right to listen, to think about ideas, and to develop her mind. But now let’s read a poem that puts Martha in a different, stronger and passionate light. Remember their brother Lazarus whom Jesus raised? (John11:1-44)

Fr Don

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