Saturday, July 17, 2010

What was Martha preparing?

An old fisherman took a young man as a passenger in is boat. On one of the oars was written the word PRAY. On the other oar the word WORK. The young man said mockingly:

"You're out of date, uncle. What does anyone need with prayer, if he works?".

The old man said noth
ing, but he let go of the oar on which "pray" was written, and rowed with the other. He rowed and rowed, but they only turned round and round, and made no progress.

The young man understood.
Lk 10:38-42 (at the home of Mary and Martha)

I understand that this story that occurred in Martha and Mary's home has sparked numerous discussions for proper interpretation since time immemorial. Spiritual or temporal? Which weighs more? Under what circumstances? It is worth noting that the story itself revolved around an argument when Martha complained to Jesus: "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself t
o do the serving?". Much has been said about proper priorities although I noticed that an interesting matter has been left out in all the discussions. What could Martha have been preparing in the house so much so that the texts say that she was "burdened with much serving"?

The common staple in those biblical times was bread, fish, lamb/goat's meat,and fruits. Meat would have required time-consuming tenderizing, so my bet goes with the bread and fish. Fish would be quick enough to broil or steam although it would require some cleaning preparations. I would say 30 minutes tops, although the serving itself would still be a separate daunting task. Take note from the texts that the disciples were with Jesus at the time, so there were at least 13 hungry people to serve, possibly even more. It was therefore a tall order.

Today, with the many choices of convenience food available, a similar situation would have been more manageable. For example when my kids' hordes of YFC friends suddenly drop by our house, we just order pizza. In our weekly prayer meetings with our charismatic group, I take charge of the snacks and I usually serve my personal version of easy-to-cook noodle dish like this "pancit luglog" with bread - the recipe of which I posted in my blog. I do have a passion for cooking and thankfully, my wife appreciates it (I think).

Anyway, such modern food conveniences were of course not options to Martha at the time. However, it is apparent there would have been ample time for everything. It leaves us no doubt when Jesus said "Mary has chosen the better pa
rt". Nothing suggests there was a dire need to eat pronto. We could glean however, that Jesus only admonished Martha gently in a sort of affectionate manner that is common among intimate fellowship: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things". In retrospect, Martha should have joined Mary at the feet of Jesus to listen to the Word first. There should be enough time later on to prepare the food. After all, when it comes to crunch time, we all know that Jesus can multiply food.

I would also like to share something from my 5-year old son when we ask him to pray before meals.

"God is
good, bless the food. Bless the hands that made this food. Bless us O God, Amen".


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