Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Tradition and specific gender roles are very important to Native peoples. We understand inherently how to put ourselves among our people, and are taught from a very young age what to do and when to do it. Honor and respect are essential to our lives and we tread very carefully when we have to step out of normal roles to step up in leadership. Many Native women, despite, like myself, being from matriarchal and matri-lineal tribes, are extremely careful to cross lines that would disrespect another. Balance and harmony are critical to our share lives.
Mary had upset the balance and harmony of the household and their culture. Martha goes to Jesus, the teacher and leader to help things get back in balance, for she fears for the safety and continuity of her household and life. Jesus understands Martha concerns and also understands that there are times and places where the traditional boundaries must be disregarded. A Jewish rabbi telling Martha that her sister had the better part was truly an outrage. And yet, Jesus wants us all to understand that there are times and places where balance and harmony have to take a back seat to justice and inclusion, where the circumstances demands more than a status quo response. Jesus was invited Martha to also chose the better part, no matter how difficult that might be.
Today I ask God to help me understand, day by day, how to chose the better part. May we not be persuaded to fall back on the familiar and comfortable, but step forward when necessary for the sake of justice and inclusion.