Sense and Sensibility

Martha carefully stirred the pot. Her black hair fell over her shoulders as she bent to smell the aroma of fresh stew. Mary, her sister, straightened some pillows in the next room.

"I can't wait until He comes," sighed Mary.

"Everything has to be perfect for him," agreed Martha.

Preparations continued as the event drew nearer. Martha started to dust when she noticed Mary staring out the window. Her olive skin shone as the sunlight streamed through the window. Martha was finished dusting and had just started sweeping when she began to get annoyed at Mary. She was still staring out the window.

"Why don't you sweep the kitchen," Martha suggested sweetly.

Mary nodded and rushed off to help. Sweeping took longer than normal because Mary rushed to the window whenever she heard a noise. Martha laughed at her jumpiness.

"Settle down," she said. "He'll come when he comes."

"I know," said Mary, "but I can't help it. I love it when he comes." Mary again stared out the window.

"The bread still has to be done," commented Martha, snapping Mary out of her reverie.

"I'll do it," said Mary.

Mary mixed the ingredients and had just begun to knead it, when some figures came into view.

"He's here!" exclaimed Mary, "Jesus is here!"

Both women greeted Jesus and his friends. Martha led them to the back room like a good hostess. Mary followed behind them. She wanted to talk to Jesus, but now that he was here, she found herself too shy to approach him. Soon the men were all seated on cushions around Jesus. Martha nudged Mary in the direction of the kitchen and Mary went back to kneading the dough. Martha exited into another room to prepare it for their supper. Mary strained to hear Jesus' words, but she could only catch a few.

Martha bustled into the kitchen. It was getting late and the bread should have been ready to eat. She looked around the kitchen and panic took over. The bread was only half kneaded, and Mary was no where to be seen. Martha peered into the room Jesus was in and tried to see if Mary was among them. She saw Mary sitting at the back of the group and gazing at Jesus. Martha, not wanting to interrupt, tried to catch Mary's eye. This not working, she turned back into the kitchen. She kneaded the dough furiously. With every pound of her fist, she began to remember the times Mary had left the work up to her. For the moment, all of Mary's help was forgotten. Setting the bread to bake, Martha's stomach grumbled. She worried that Jesus and His friends would be hungry too. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She walked into the room during a lull in the conversation. Jesus looked up at her as she approached them. Martha was going to ask Mary to help her, but when she saw Mary sitting there like nothing was wrong, Martha's anger and worry boiled over. She turned to Jesus, who was still waiting in silence.

"Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" she burst out.

Jesus turned to look at Martha, compassion in his eyes. "Martha, Martha," he soothed, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Martha was stunned at his answer. She had expected Mary to be rebuked, not her. Leaving to go to her room, Martha thought over what had happened. She soon realized that Jesus would love her no matter what. She had been worried about impressing him and his friends, when all he wanted was for her to listen to him. He cared about her, not the things that she did.

"Poor Mary," thought Martha, "I've been snapping at her all day. That last outburst of mine was very selfish. What will the men think of me," she said, and then caught herself. It did not matter what they thought. She said a silent prayer of supplication and asked for help in knowing the right thing to do. As she entered the kitchen, she saw that Mary was working furiously.

"The stew is done, and the bread is almost finished," said Mary. Her face was flushed, and she looked up at Martha, waiting for her to say something.

Martha felt ashamed of herself. "I'm sorry I snapped at you," she apologized. "I was so worried about preparations that I lost sight of what really matters."

"Oh, but I should have helped more," gushed Mary, "I left all the work to you, and that wasn't fair."

"You helped me quite a bit, and in the end your heart was in the right place. Why don't we go listen to Jesus? Supper can wait a while longer."

Mary and Martha hugged, and left the kitchen arm in arm.