As they continued their journey he 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." (Lk 10:38-42)
Martha complains about Mary, her own sister. This complaint is because she takes herself as a model or an example for her sister. This is also because we make ourselves as criteria for the lives of others and their activities. Martha was a good person and all she did was also good. But her attitude towards the other was not right.
Mary was also busy. She was busy listening to Jesus. Martha was attending to Jesus by preparing food for him while Mary was also attending to Jesus by spending time with him listening. Both are activities and one should not be compared with the other. This is similar to the story of Peter and John (Jn 21, 22). In this story Peter is worried about John. So Jesus had to say “what concern is it of yours? You follow me”. Each one should follow Jesus in their own way and should not pretend to be a model for the other.
Jesus himself is on a journey. Journey is towards Jerusalem the ‘city of God’. But he breaks his journey in a village which is very close to Jerusalem. Bethany is the ‘village of Mary and Martha’. Jesus feels at home in this village (he is welcomed here) while the city turns against him. In the village he has friends who care for him (prepare food for him) and friends who listen to him.