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Martha and Mary

Martha and Mary

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Published by glennpease

St. Luke x. 38 seq,

St. Luke x. 38 seq,

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Published by: glennpease on Sep 07, 2012
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MARTHA AD MARYBY FRACIS JACOX 1825-1897.St. Luke x. 38 seq,OLSHAUSE observes that the account given in St.Luke's gospel of the two sisters of Bethany marksthem, though in few touches, so strikingly and clearly, thatthey are often chosen as the exemplars of the peculiarities of two distinct religious tendencies : Martha being the recognizedtype of a life busily devoted to externals; and Mary of quietself-devotion to the Divine as the one thing needful. "Amongthe apostles, Peter corresponded to Martha; John, on theother hand, to Mary." * The same commentator, while affirm-ing that to a certain extent both tendencies will be combinedin each believer, is careful not to overlook the existence of different vocations, or the fact of many being better fitted forbusy outward labours than for an inner comtemplative life,although the most active must cultivate a real spirit of devo-tion, and the most contemplative must consecrate his energiesto a practical service of God. Although Mary, as JeremyTaylor says, was commended for choosing the better part, yetMary had done worse, if she had been at the feet of her Masterwhen she should have relieved a perishing brother. " Marthawas troubled with much serving; that was more than need,* Dr. ewman somewhere calls attention to the fact that Simortremained at his nets^ while his brother Andrew followed John theBaptist ;and that Andrew first recognized the Messiah among the inhabitants of despised azareth, ahd brought his brother to Him ; yet to Andrew,Christspake no word of commendation which has been allowed to continue onrecord, whereas to Simon, even at his first coming, He gave thehonourablename by which he is now designated, and afterwards put him forwardasthe typical foimdation of His Church. othing, indeed, can hence be
 
inferred, one way or other, concerning the relative excellence of the twobrothers. ** Andrew is scarcely known, except by name, while Peter hasever held the place of honour all over the Church ; yet Andrew broughtPeter to Christ." Suum cuique is at times an ideal law, rather than apractical or plainly practicable one, in this busy world of ours.256 MARTHA AD MARY,and therefore she was to blame; and sometimes hearing, insome circumstances, may be more than needs; and some'women are troubled with overmuch hearing, and then they hadbetter have been serving the necessities of their house."The address of Jesus to Martha is justly held to refer less tohousehold activity in itself (for that must be cared for) than tothe state of mind in which she went about it, and the com-parison she instituted in this respect between herself land Mary.Busjdng herself to provide the best entertainment she couldfor the beloved Guest, she exaggerated the relative value of her household diligence ; and from the gratification she felt inStoicovta — a term comprising "all domestic services in whichMartha lost herself in needless bustle " — from the enjoymentshe felt in her congenial occupations, arose the reprovingspeech directed against her sister.* Martha's implied rebukeof Mary, whom indeed she desires our Lord implicitly torebuke, is itself rebuked in His reply. He rebukes first the/jL€pLfjivay and TvppdZ,uv — the being careful and troubled, turbari,about many things — that is, her " restless spirit of action, asmoved by the impulses of creature affection ; " and next. Hecontrasts the trivial many things, TroAAa, with the indispensableone thing, h, — intimating at the same time that for the sake of the former she was losing the latter ; though the many thingsmight be dispensed with, the one thing not.There is something of gentle chiding too, or mild rebuke, inour Lord's " Said I not to thee . . . ? " addressed to Martha,at her brother's grave. He had just bidden them take away thestone ; and the doing so would, as Dr. Hanna puts it, at once
 
expose the dead, and let loose the foul effluvium of theadvanced decomposition. " The careful Martha, whose activespirit ever busied itself with the outward and tangible side of  _ . a* ** Perhaps conscience stirred her up and testified that Mary hadmoreof Jesus than sj^e. But as her craving for the heavenly was notsufficientlystrong and pure, she suffered herself to be fettered by externalactivities,which in reality were more agreeable to her, and out of this state of mindmay have arisen her speech. Jealous of Mary, she wished her to be asshqherself was. " — Olshamen,MARTHA AD MARY. 257things, at once perceives this, and hastens to interpose acheck." Let us, however, be prompt to remember, withBishop Hall, that " it was Martha who went to meet Jesus.*'So was it — to recall the assumed affinity between Martha andPeter on one side, Mary and John on the other, — so was itPeter who " went into the sepulchre " of his risen Lord. Johnhad outrun Peter, when to the sepulchre they ran both together.John came first to the sepulchre ; yet went he not in.Modem criticism is caustic on Bishop Fisher's elaborationof a parallel between the Lady Margaret and Martha of Bethany, in four respects. First, nobility of person ; second,discipline of her body ; third, in ordering her soul to God ;fourth, in hospitality and charity, " ow," urges the authorof the Biographia Borealis, " unless there be, as in all proba-bility there is, a traditional history of Martha, containing manyparticulars not recorded by the evangelists,* it would puzzle aherald to prove her nobility y except it consisted in her descent

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