Mary and Martha certainly have experienced sorrow and pain in the death of their brother, Lazarus. After his resurrection we find the family hosting a dinner, and Jesus is present. The joy of having Lazarus among them plays out differently for the two sisters. The hostess duties fall to Martha as she serves the guests. Mary turns all of her attention to Jesus, anointing his feet with expensive oil. Judas Iscariot chastises her for not having sold the oil to give money to the poor.
At some point in our journey from darkness to dancing there comes a time to reawaken our awareness of the world around us. Mary moves from the darkness of death to the light of resurrection. Her awareness awakens in her a realization of the path Jesus will take. Only she, of all those gathered, perceives what awaits him, and she expends her oil in a mission of honoring the one she loves. Mary and Martha take different routes, but they have one thing in common: They both honor Jesus and care for those around them. How would our lives change if we were to do the same?
Widowed much younger than I had ever expected, I asked my children: Why me? Why did I have to be the first in almost every circle of friends and family? Their wise response: Maybe so you can help others. A large part of my own healing has come from my intentional awareness of others and their needs. Sometimes it takes being a Martha, cooking or cleaning. Often, it requires the listening Mary, whose intuition will be borne out in Jesus’ crucifixion and death—an awareness of others’ needs and responding in some way. We give thought and take action because, like Mary and Martha, opportunities may not present themselves more than once.

Loving God, give us an awareness of those around us and the grace to respond to their needs. Amen.

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This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

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