Saturday, May 31, 2014

that our words aren't always the most important thing.


We know the story. Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet, oblivious to the vibes of resentment from her sister, until Martha snapped, "Aren't you going to do anything and make her help me?" And Jesus compassionately replied, "You're worried and distracted about many things, Martha, and Mary has made a good choice which won't be taken away from her."

I sometimes wonder exactly what Jesus was saying that held Mary so enthralled that day. Was he giving a wrap-up of stories he'd told all week, in streets, temples and mountaintops? Or was it something entirely new? What if it was some unique story Mary was the only person privileged to have heard. If so, I wish it had made its way into the pages of the Bible. If whatever he was saying had the power to draw Mary in completely, I'm sure it would have done the same for us.

Why did the Gospel authors used the occasion to hone in not on what Jesus said, but on the interaction between him and the two sisters? Maybe they weren't part of what was being said and didn't hear.

What of Mary herself? Even though she was praised by Jesus for making the right choice, what did she do with her reflective nature that we're aware of? There is no recorded result of her pondering, no 'Book of Mary' in which her thoughts are left in print for our benefit.

If she was like me, would that have bothered her? I like the idea of  leaving several solid books and a trail of blog posts so that anyone who may be remotely interested may know my heart. Sharing is what we were made for, right? That makes this incident even stranger. We have no record of what Jesus was saying to her that day, and no record of Mary's words ever. Why is that?

A possible answer came to me this week as I was browsing Facebook. It is the week of Maya Angelou's death. She was a beloved poet, novelist and civil rights advocate, and a few friends shared some of her quotes. Here is the end of one of them. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

That's it! That's what this story shows. I've been brought up wanting to always read and study things, but that wasn't the point of this incident featuring Jesus, Mary and Martha. Jesus' words didn't need to be recorded every single time. We still get a glimpse into who he was - somebody who could make Mary drop everything just because she found him so compelling and believed him to be the promised Messiah, and God's own Son. It was how he made her feel.

And as far as Mary was concerned, the point of the incident is not that she went off and processed whatever he told her in her own way. It was who she was. A person who sensed the truth about him, loved him and honoured him in a time when local bigwigs were instructing folk to do the opposite. She was a person who later honoured what she knew in her heart by tipping a whole bottle of sweet smelling nard over his feet. We don't remember her for any words she wrote or was recorded to have spoken, but for who she was, and how she makes us feel. She's a person we remember solely for her reaction to who he was.

Mary makes me feel happy and warm when I think of her, because of what she stands for. She had no performance mentality and shows us that we needn't either. She had no agenda to earn herself a following. She was just herself, living her normal life and responding with worship and thankfulness to what she knew was true. When I think of it like this, I'm glad, in a way, that she didn't leave any writing or records of speeches. She reminds us that all that extra stuff is just peripheral in our lives too, because as Maya Angelou said, our legacy is in what we are and how others feel/felt when around us.

Here is another of my reflections concerning Mary and Martha.
And here is a review I've written about a recent novel featuring them.

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