Mary the subversive.

Last Sunday the sermon at Holy Trinity Huddersfield was on the subject of the story of Mary and Martha.  I enjoyed it. Pam, who was preaching, said that we should not be as hard on Martha as some have been, after all it was Martha who opened her home to Jesus.

Christ with Martha and Maria
Christ with Martha and Maria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The need not to be too busy and ways to find time to be with God was the main theme. As I said, I enjoyed the sermon.

The thing with me is that when I read back through the passege I am interested in what was not said. Hence this blog.

Mary sat at the feet of Jesus. Sounds simple. But what she was doing was insulting to just about everyone.

It was insulting to Martha. Mary should have been helping her sister preparing the food. Hospitality needs to be worked at, where would they be if no one worked in the kitchen?

It was insulting to the disciples. The disciples had been chosen to be the people who would sit at the feet of Jesus. At the feet of a Rabbi was the traditional place of learning for a rabbi’s followers. Followers who were chosen by the rabbi. Imagine the disciples shock when a woman comes and assumes this place uninvited.

It was insulting to Jesus. It is the rabbi’s job to chose who should be a disciple, It is not the followers’ job to choose that place.

What should have happened next: Jesus should have commended Martha for her hospitality at the very least, and as for Mary not only not showing hospitality but assuming a position which was not hers …

But that is not what happened. Jesus went against the conventions of his day and commends Mary. Not that Martha was doing anything wrong, hospitality is good, but Jesus says that Mary has chosen something better.

We can follow that example and take time to learn from Jesus. To take time to pray, to meditate, or simply rest in his presence. My way, when I was a parent with three children and a wife to distract me, was to  start running a bath, read a passage from the Bible as it was filling, then thirty minutes to think about it behind a locked door.

Like Mary we do not have to wait for an invitation to learn from Jesus. As Jesus said, “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” John 6:37 ESV 

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