I've always thought Martha got a bum rap. While not wanting to second-guess our Lord, I've always taken her side in the dispute with her sister Mary.
Every time I hear that Gospel reading, I keep wishing Jesus will perform a miracle and make the housework go away. After all, if Mary won't help, how is Martha supposed to sit in the presence of the Lord? Thanksgiving is almost here, and Martha's problem again presents itself. While our nation prepares to celebrate our heritage, we Martha-types are thinking about one thing … the work.
The Martha in my childhood household was, as in most families, Mom. Imagine yourself in her apron, and you get an accurate picture of Thanksgiving in our rambunctious house.
Mom got up before daybreak to put the turkey in the oven. All morning long, she prepared the trimmings — the savory stuffing, the creamy spuds, the crushed cranberries, and on and on. She set out the desserts ranging from fancy kiffles to classic pumpkin pie.
As the family opened the wine and passed the hors d'oeuvres, Mom got to try … one. Satisfied that they came out all right, she went off to dust her best china and unpack the silver.
All this took place before 1 p.m., and it doesn't include the shopping, the food prep, nor the post-meal cleanup.
Did I mention there were nine of us?
My mother was a truly selfless soul. She not only sacrificed herself for us every day of the year, she did overtime on holidays. Like Martha, she complained once in awhile. The funny thing is, it always took us by surprise. I'm afraid we just took her for granted. We were having fun. It was a holiday.
Twenty years later, with Thanksgivings of my own to prepare, I realize that we missed the whole point of the holiday. Take the word apart and it spells gratitude — gratitude due to our nation, our families and especially to God.
Among God's many blessings that we should be grateful for is one that he himself enjoyed — hospitality. The Son of Man who had no home was given supper and lodging by dear Martha.
Our mothers also gave us food and lodging. What better way to thank them — and our Lord — than by allowing our mothers to relax and reflect on our Lord's words as Jesus said Martha should do?
Mom's loving hands will create a bountiful feast this Thanksgiving. Let's not wait for her to gripe before offering her a hand. Grab a dish towel and, while you're at it, put a drink in her hand.
Lighten her load and her heart. Then she'll have time to meditate on the works of the Lord.
Susan Lloyd is a home-schooling mother of four who lives in Pennsylvania.
Martha and Mary
Now as they were traveling along, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to his word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.“But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)