I had chosen what was better.

I SAT AT JESUS’ FEET (Luke 10:38-42; John 12:1-8). 

I am Mary, the sister to Martha, whom Jesus praised for sitting at His feet and doing something special for Him. Without the help of my sister Martha and my brother Lazarus, I would not have been able to hang around our visitors and listen to their stories. Martha was hospitable and accommodating. She made people comfortable by working her hands off. She was always on her feet doing something for someone. Her home was a hostel for many. I, of course, helped her a lot, except when we had visitors. And since we lived in Bethany that was close to Jerusalem, many people became our acquaintances. One of them was Jesus of Nazareth. He became a very close friend. We also believed that He was sent from God to be our Redeemer. My sister Martha put out a special effort to please Him and His companions and she wanted me to do the same.

Jesus, too, felt comfortable in our home. His stories and teaching fascinated me. He was also different from any man I had ever met. His interest in me was not that of a man, but of a person from another world. Jesus did not seem to have the interest in women other men had. Yet, He had an extra special love for us – the kind people have that will give their shirt of their back to a friend and lay down their life for them. Jesus was that kind of a person who would not hesitate to do for us anything that was within His power. What we did not know was how much power He had. We were to find that out later when He raised my brother from being dead. Meanwhile, I loved to hear Him talk. I would neglect my sister and her chores, plant myself at Jesus’ feet and listen. His voice was not overpowering, but reassuring. He spoke with absolute certainty. Jesus left no doubt that what He said was the very truth that came from our God in heaven. His view of the world and His hope for it was as refreshing as the dew in the early morning. No one had ever spoken like our friend, Jesus from Nazareth. Little did I know that I would no longer have the privilege to listen to His heavenly wisdom!

Well, Martha did not think I should be sitting at Jesus’ feet and listen to what He was saying. She complained to Jesus and demanded that He order me to help her. What a mistake she made. “Martha,” He told her, “you worry too much about work you can finish later. You are missing out on the one thing you need most than anything in the world. Now Mary has chosen what is better and I will not take that from her.” I had chosen what is better. What was it that I was doing? I was listening to the Man, who was sent from God with a Message that no one else had. I was listening to the Man who was sent to save my soul, feed my mind, and give meaning to my life. I, without knowing it, was not living on bread alone, but on the Word of God that came from the mouth of His only begotten Son. How could I but listen at His feet and take in all that He said? Yes, the work I could do after He was gone, but listening to Him, I could no more. I was blessed with knowing when to listen to what was most essential for my life and Jesus recognized it in me. It was not long after, that Martha and I called for Jesus to heal our brother Lazarus. Only He came to resurrect Lazarus from the dead and that is when we learned that He had power over life and death.

One week before our great Passover feast, Martha made Jesus a party. I cannot exactly say what came over me, except that I had this unction to do something special for our special friend. It was not what women did, when they were interested in a man, to sneak up when He rested and anoint His feet. I was urged to take my very best and most costly ointment pour it all over his feet and dry them with my hair. I was willing to be Jesus’ servant forever and this was just my appreciation for His friendship and what He had done for us. It all happened so fast that I stunned everyone and some began to misunderstand my intentions. One follower called my action wasteful and asked how many needy could have been helped? But Jesus understood me completely. He defended me. He told them, “Leave her alone. You can always help the poor. I will not be with you very long.” Then Jesus put meaning to what He had done. He went on saying, “She acted on divine impulse when she saved the perfume for me and anointed me for my burial.” Those last words of Jesus hit us hard. I had prepared Him for His burial? I had anointed His feet, so that they were strong enough to carry our sins on a cross and be crucified for us.