We end our journey where it began, in Bethany with Mary’s choice of the better part and Martha’s choice of the busy part. Now we know what Mary has chosen: the words of the Lord, a rootedness in God, and reception of the revealed mystery of Christ in us.
Do we also now know the consequences for Martha of not having chosen the better part? We sense that more urgent than her guests’ hunger is the end of the famine of hearing the words of the Lord that takes place in her presence. We see her bustling around with the tiring work of hospitality rather than planting herself at the feet of the One who already has and gives living water. We hear the absurdity of her question, “Do you not care?” The mystery that troubles her has been revealed already—God’s care for the universe evidenced in the sending of the only begotten Son for eternal life.
John’s Gospel offers evidence suggesting that Martha eventually chooses the better part, at least as robustly as Mary does in Luke. When John 11 describes Jesus’ arrival at Bethany after Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus has died, Martha greets Jesus first, shows faith in his ability to do the impossible, and declares, “Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (11:27). Believing into God, as the phrase translates literally from both Greek and Latin, she steps into the place at Jesus’ feet that Mary occupied alone in Luke’s Gospel. Together with them at his feet, we remember what he said then in their house as we look forward to the Resurrection, the consummation of “the better part that can never be taken away from” any of us.

Lord, rooted in you we acknowledge your care. We choose the better part and believe into you! 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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