This is a reflection with guided imaginary prayer about Mary and Martha that was offered at a retreat. Maybe you can do this prayer by yourself? Let me know how you get on if you have!
We are putting ourselves into the story, we can sit with pen and paper / drawings or simply sit in silence with your imagination.
This is such a familiar story, as we read it many times. we have all heard it many times. We hear about a woman called Martha who welcomed Jesus into her house. And then there is Mary, the younger sister, she had the audacity to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him speaking! Leaving Martha to do all the work by herself. You can just imagine Martha, probably banging her pots and pan loudly in the kitchen for a while, when that didn’t work, she eventually came out to protest to Jesus ‘Tell my sister to come over and help me!’, only to have Jesus give a unexpected reply. He actually said that Mary has chosen better!
What stood out for you in this moment?
I invite you to enter into this scene with your imagination, reflect on these three presences –
So we see Jesus, coming into a new place, walking around the village. Martha noticed Jesus, she said, Jesus, come over to my house! Martha and Mary welcomed Jesus to their house. Jesus accepted. Imagine if you are Martha and Mary, Jesus walking towards and coming into your house, imagine him at your door, coming inside, settling in.
Pause for a moment, to notice Jesus, What kind of posture does he hold? What kind of expression on his face?
Notice his presence in the house, what is it like to you?
What is Mary like to you?
She quietly avoid the bustle in the kitchen, she might have felt some looks from Martha, or some whispers of voices from others in the room. But she came and sat down by Jesus, close to him. She doesn’t care as much about other people’s opinion. She didn’t see the things that needs to be done as significant as Jesus’s presence. Mary came empty handed, offering nothing, just herself.
If you give Mary a voice, what would she say?
What does Mary want?
Notice Mary’s presence, what kind of presence is Mary like to you?
What is Martha like? Martha might be someone who is well liked, she sees a need and naturally meet it. She saw Jesus, she responded, she opened her house with generosity. She make things happen! She wanted to give Jesus the kind of welcome she felt Jesus deserves. She might be expecting Jesus to appreciate what she was doing.
Gradually, she was distracted, and feeling weighed down.
What was she distracted with?
What might she be thinking about?
As Martha looked over at her sister from a distance, she is sitting close to Jesus, a strong feeling well up inside of her, what is she feeling?
If Martha would pause for a moment, she might see that something in her has kept her from moving closer to Jesus… What are they?
She finally come out of the kitchen, walked up, pass the others, to the center of the room, up close to Jesus, to ask Jesus to command her sister Mary to come ‘help her’. ‘Don’t you care, Jesus…’ How might you finish that sentence?
But actually, what she wanted to say is…
Give Martha a voice, what would she say?
Martha has a longing, what does she want?
Notice Martha’s presence in this moment, what is it like?
What happens if we let these two sisters talk to each other?
What would Martha want to say to Mary?
What would Mary want to say to Martha?
I wonder if it is the same longing in Martha and Mary but they have gone to different places with that longing… Mary go towards Jesus, and Martha has gone somewhere else.
Jesus has compassion – ‘Martha, Martha… you are carrying many things, they are not needed…’
You just need one thing…
imagine Jesus say your name twice
What is the tone of his voice to you like? Sit with Jesus for as long as you need.