Does Jesus care?
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
We might often think of this Gospel as the Better Part Gospel. Mary prefers to listen to Jesus, while Martha tries to show her care and concern by getting everything ready. The two get in a tizzy, and Martha calls Jesus to referee. Jesus shows no interest in their squabble but brings everything to another plane by validating Mary's choice to stay listening to him.
But before Jesus imparts his wisdom, I think it is interesting to listen to Martha's complaint because we might have similar worries in our minds and hearts.
Jesus was a friend and a familiar face in their household. The three siblings, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, considered themselves close to Jesus. It seems that sometimes when he needed to get away from the concerns of life, he would go to them. So, where does the title "Lord" come from? Why would she address him so formally in an informal setting? Mary feels far off from Jesus. She perceives a lot of distance. Maybe she is jealous of her sister, sitting there so contently at the feet of Jesus.
Do you not care?
Imagine Martha's voice at this point. Is it tremulous? Is she afraid the answer might be affirmative? Is she complaining that too often, she has found that the people in her life do not care about her, even if this is only her perception? Something deep and painful is at the root of this phrasing of the question.
Martha perceives that she is left alone. She is good enough to be everybody's servant, but when it is time to relax and celebrate, she has to go to the kitchen and wash the dishes. She feels used for other people's convenience and does not feel loved for who she is.
The Greek word for conversion is "metanoia," which means literally a "changing of the mind." It is not something superficial, skin-deep, but refers to the depths of the soul. Martha needs a metanoia, a conversion so that she can receive the love of Jesus. This is what he is trying to achieve by pointing at her sister. She needs to change her attitude and her actions so that she can receive the love of God. Too often, we can write ourselves off, thinking that we are unworthy of God's love. But he is always waiting for us to come and sit at his feet, listen to his words, and fall in love once again.