In 2013 I visited the Holy Land in Israel on pilgrimage and saw the major Christian sites at Nazareth, Capernaum Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Jericho, Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem we paid our respects to the Jewish people at The Western Wall.
I expected to be moved at the holiest sites in Christendom at The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem at the sites of Christs Crucifixion and Resurrection and indeed I was deeply moved to be there.
I had not expected to be overwhelmed with emotion at a place called Bethany where we visited the tomb of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead in response to the faith of Lazarus’s sisters, Martha and Mary.
Martha and Mary are two of the biblical women who were close friends of Jesus and on one of his visits to their home it is recorded in Luke 10 (see below) that Martha, busy with the housework complains to Jesus that Mary is not helping her as she sits at his feet listening to Jesus.
Jesus says to Martha, you are always busy and worrying about needless things and Mary has chosen the better part and this should not be taken from her.
As a child we were all encouraged to be like Mary, listening to the Lord, but I was never sure what Jesus would have had for his tea if Martha had not continued with her worldly duties!
At Mass on Tuesday I heard this gospel passage read out again followed by a brief comment by our priest.
My blog today strips out the overtones of religion and faith, which touched me deeply, when I listened on Tuesday night, but I want to explain this to people of all faiths and none.
We are all Martha, concerned with the world, our basic needs for food and shelter, relationships, work, interests.
We all need to be Mary too, concerned with things of spirit, or soul – in touch with our inner core – in touch with our inner teacher, which we may access with religious overtones or not, through regular periods of calm and solitude.
In my case I can do both, but nowadays I prefer to keep religion out of my thinking unless I specifically want to pray and reflect in a religious way e.g. in front of a crucifix or reciting the rosary.
I have developed in recent years, my need for soul, my need for truth, my need for acceptance of self.
I think I was overwhelmed at Bethany because I realised at that time, that my own balance between Martha and Mary was desperately out of balance and had been for most of my life. Not so now!
My next blog will be: I See You
Picture Credit: en.wikipedia.org
Luke 10:38-42 New International Version (NIV)
At the Home of Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”