We have a sister in our community whose nickname is Martha. I’ve never been sure whether she got that nickname from Martha Stewart or Saint Martha, the sister of Lazarus and Mary. This sister is the perfect homemaker. She could have become an interior decorator. Her food is scrumptious, and the meal’s arrangement convinces anyone that it’s a matter of presentation, presentation, presentation. Being impeccably clean and neat is a given. Whatever she does deserves a blue ribbon. So does her nickname come from Martha Stewart or Saint Martha?
I’m sure this sister would be flattered by either Martha, but I’m going to suggest the saint. You remember that the Itinerant Preacher and his disciples knew where they could get a homecooked meal. Perhaps they invited themselves into Martha’s home. She had the grace to “welcome [them] to her home.” As Martha rushed to bake more bread and set 13 more places, Jesus teased Martha for being too busy: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things; one thing is required.” What was that? Simply being present, enjoying the presence of Jesus, listening to his words. Jesus wanted Martha to be present to her guests: that was, and is, the “better portion” of hospitality.
The sister nicknamed Martha has the aplomb to create a fine feast and be present to her guests. Doing both she will never be deprived of the “better portion.” Nor will her guests.