Commentary on the Gospel of

Fr. Johnson Joseph Thurackal CMF

The evangelist, in the episode of Martha and Mary, builds a contrast: the two different personalities of Martha and Mary; the first one is all taken up by “many things”, the second one does not do even one, she is all taken up with listening to the Master. The purpose of this contrast is to underline the attitude of Mary who dedicates herself to listen fully and totally to the Master, thus becoming the model for every believer. Martha’s attitude leads to agitation and anxiety. Mary was in a continuous ‘action of listening’ to the word of Jesus. Jesus said that Mary has preferred “the best part” that corresponds to listening to His Word. This attitude does not endorse avoiding one’s own tasks or daily responsibilities, but only the knowledge that listening to the Word precedes every service, every activity.

Martha is made privy to one of the I AM revelations - that Jesus is the resurrection! But notice the movement of grace in this episode of the Gospel. Jesus first comes to Bethany! That is grace. Martha responds by going out to meet him; unlike Mary.  Then the revelation by Jesus, and then a further response by Martha, one that is reminiscent of Peter at Caesarea Philippi. Jesus wants us to remember that God is the giver of life and he who believes in him will never die. He offers spiritual life that cannot destroy. When we realize his power and his gift, we cannot but commit ourselves to him.


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