Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Let’s face it. It is very difficult for doers to slow down. Doers thrive on multi-tasking (though, interestingly, recent studies show multitasking diminishes the quality of any one of the tasks). They also feel affirmed when their busy-ness reputation is both demonstrated (again!) and duly applauded (though they readily demur the praise). Doers assume that everything depends on their maximum effort. Getting the job done is job one.
Enter Martha the “doer,” and her sister Mary, also a doer, yet less intensely so. When Jesus and friends came for dinner, it was clearly a two-sister job, at least as Martha sized it up. Mary sized the same opportunity up differently; personal time with Jesus was rarefied air. Listening to Jesus rather than serving Jesus was Mary’s Job One.
So…who was right? Some side with the over-wrought Martha. But not Jesus. He (no doubt kindly, yet) firmly corrected the one who was “trying to make sure everything was right.” Busy serving that produces anxiousness, stressing over secondary details, should be set aside. “One thing is necessary,” Jesus continued. “Mary has chosen it, the ‘good’ that she will never lose.” Listening well to Jesus, even midst the busiest press of life, is always Job One.