Today while binging on the comedic satire of “Monster in Law” which celebrates the genius of Jane Fonda and Jennifer Lopez, I considered the plight of Lazarus’s sisters Mary and Martha. I meditated on their distinct concerns, the dismay of the disciples and the “sleep of Lazarus”. What pain could Martha have felt to “not have chosen the better part”? All these issues rightly divided in Luke 10.
Bible scripture says that Mary is celebrated because she chose to anoint Jesus’s feet versus helping her sister attend to preparing the supper. The story of two opposing sisters mirrors the humanity’s clamor for values versus victory and, more clearly pain over purpose.
The proverbs say that every person has a unique source of bitterness, and often that source is convoluted. Similarly, Jane Fonda’s Viola reeling from the perceived loss of son, believes that she must ‘save” him. After losing her job to changing demographics, her devastation feeds an idea that her son’s love interest will render her identity as something defaulted. She feigns grace but inwardly she is seething with pain. Mary and Martha’s plight mirror the dynamic between Viola and Charlotte, the son’s new love interest. Like these two women, Christians must decide what road to follow, pain or purpose. Pursuing of God’s grace requires acknowledging pain, degradation, and ridicule.
Yes, the yoke of bondage is awesome among two people in competition. Martha’s dinner doesn’t trump Mary’s washing. But Martha is encumbered. Encumbered is “weighed down”. She’s doing too much. She’s so focused on performing that she misses the reason that the dinner matters. Viola’s pain is encumbered. The bitterness weighs her down so greatly she can barely manage the grace to meet her.
This is why the story of Mary and Martha is important. When it comes to the pains that weigh us down, we must remember our purpose.
The purpose of disability need not hold one back from the goal of life. The task of dinner should not deter the goal of togetherness. Mary got her honor because she was sensitive to the needs of Jesus. She was discerning.
Life is a confounding mess of choices and goals. We will wonder how we might persist. Nevertheless, we must be austere about our motivation, patient in her question, and truthfully sure in preserving our hearts. Do not let your pain usurp your purpose.