There is need of only one thing.

Luke 10:38-42

New International Version
10:38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.

10:39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

10:40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”

10:41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;

10:42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

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One Response to “There is need of only one thing.”

  1. Fr. Paul Fenech says:

    For many years, I thought that the incident that happened in the house of Jesus’ friends, where the only two of the three hosts mentioned are the sisters Mary and Martha, was a lesson on the priority of contemplation over action. I thought that contemplation is the better part sought by Mary, which Jesus promised not to be taken away from her. In that case, the contrast may well have been between Lazarus, their brother, cutting some vegetables from the garden and Mary wasting her time at the feet of Jesus instead of helping him. Then, why Martha? Is it just a coincidence?

    Martha was doing what was culturally expected from a woman in those days: cooking and doing all the house work. And what about Mary? Doing nothing strange for us, entertaining the host and listening attentively to his stories. For us yes, but not for the people in that culture predominantly masculine! Her behavior was uncustomary to say the least, and very improper and presumptuous!

    Jewish women were not even allowed to read the Torah, the Sacred Scriptures! They were just instructed how to obey the Law! And there she is, Mary listening to Jesus, the Word of God! The contrast is not just between what both were doing, but between what a woman was allowed and expected to do and what a woman was hindered indiscriminately from doing!

    The part a culture dominated by men gave to women has always contrasted with the part man retained for himself. And this was carried in all spheres of life, even in cult, rituals and religion. The revelation of God moved progressively, respecting the gradual understanding of human beings. God revealed Himself to a particular race, with its culture and history. Until He decided to reveal Himself completely through His Only Son, Jesus Christ. Of course, He clashed with His people, or else with the traditions and cultural traits added to the true religion and hindering the brilliance of God’s revelation.

    So, what is the better part in question here? Is it truly contemplation in relation to action? Or is it woman’s role in the spiritual realm in relation to her role determined by whatever culture… or religion? Sometimes, you hear people accusing St Paul for being anti-feminist. But is it true? In Galatians (3:28) he says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. As Jesus had many women in His company, St Paul too shared his mission with various women like Priscilla, Aquila’s wife, and even traveled in mission!

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