Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 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.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’
What do you hear in this story?
What reactions do you have? Do you feel interested, want to learn more, defensive, apologetic, angry, confused? Why do you think this story brings up that reaction in you?
What images, movies, or music plays in your head when you read this story? What about if you read it aloud and listen to it?
This story has often been used to suggest that a passive spirituality is better than an active one. Do you think that is a fair reading of this text? why or why not?
Is Mary actually passive? Is Martha actually active? Are either of them actually nurturing their spiritual lives with their choice in this snapshot of a moment?
Jesus says to Martha: “you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.” What do you think he means?
Try to think of the One Thing Jesus might mean–is it about focus? Attention? Intention? something else? Read the story again with that one thing in mind. How does it read differently?
What do you think is the good news in this story? What do you think is the challenge?