Mary and Martha – a story we've heard so many times, and which has been analyzed just as often. When I reflected on it today, I got a new impression from it.
I thought the scene was sort of like the big party we have at our house each summer. We invite a lot of friends and their families over; the kids swim in the pool and play in the yard while the adults pull up chairs and talk... and eat, and drink, and laugh, and talk some more.
Hosting the party has become easier as I've learned to loosen up. These are my friends – many of them know their way around the house, the kitchen and the pantry. I've learned that people don't mind helping themselves, and helping each other. I don't have to do it all, know it all, or worst of all – have it all under control. As a host, I want to create a space for people to be themselves and have a good time. I think that when people are allowed by their host to make themselves at home, it adds to a sense of community and it nurtures relationships.
So I imagined – what would my summer party be like if Jesus showed up? I hope it wouldn't be all that much different. He would mix in with my friends, they would all have some fun conversation and get to know each other a bit more. Jesus would take his turn supervising the little kids in the pool and checking in with the teenagers as it got dark. He might even hang around and help clean-up. It wouldn't be much fun if we ended up with a deck full of Martha's, or a house full of Mary's. The fun and the sense of community comes from each of us and all of us being our authentic selves, taking in the evening, moment by moment, growing in affection and appreciation for each other.
That's the moral of today's gospel reading for me: Hey Martha, chill out, give people the opportunity to help themselves and each other, and enjoy the party. Be yourself and be with others, instead of being something for everyone else. That's why we got together in the first place – to be with each other.