Friends, today’s Gospel is the story of Martha and Mary. I’d like to offer a fresh take on this famous little story. One of the principal marks of Jesus’ teaching and ministry is the overturning of social conventions. And one of the most striking and surprising of Jesus’ moves was a radical inclusion of women.
While this typically women’s work was going on, men would sit out in the main room of the residence and talk. If a prominent rabbi or Pharisee were present, the men would sit at his feet and listen to his words.
Now we can see why Mary’s attitude was so offensive to Martha and probably to everyone else in the room. Martha wasn’t simply mad that Mary was giving her more work to do; she was mad that Mary had the gall to assume the stance of a man, to take up her position in the men’s space.
In his response to Martha’s complaint, Jesus signals more than a preference for listening over acting; he invites a woman into full participation in the life of discipleship. “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”