As a child, Christmas was my favorite time of the year. As Christmas Eve drew closer, the more excited I became, wondering what gifts may be waiting for me under the tree. Somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, life got a lot more complicated. Now that I am the one in charge of working to help pay for all the presents, this season has lost it’s luster. After three consecutive weeks of working sixty hours at Amazon, I find myself turning into a new fictional character, the grouch that spoiled Christmas.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” – Matthew 10:38-40
Last night as I was leaving work, I had a flashback of the passage above. Mary and Martha illustrate the clash of personalities that happen every day in life. In this story, Martha is the older sister, the responsible one, running around to clean and cook for Jesus, trying to be a hospitable host. Meanwhile, the baby sister cares more about talking than doing, entertaining Jesus by listening to his daily encounters with his disciples. In an attempt to be a perfectionist, Martha becomes jealous, grouchy like me.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:41-42.
Looking back, I never realized how much my parents did to make Christmas special. I’m sure there were private moments behind closed doors of complaints or frustration, but my mother possessed the characteristics of Mary. Before I ever heard of Mary and Martha, my mom demonstrated the personality trait God encourages others to emulate. In a sense, last night I was reenacting this scene from the Bible in real life. I played the role Martha. My co-workers illustrated the joy of Mary, savoring the time together. However, Jesus wasn’t there to scold me. Rather, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “watch out or you will become the grouch that spoiled Christmas.
by Jay Mankus