A captive of tradition

Luke 10: 38 - 42

“Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from you.”


Some people have that eagle eye in that they have an attention to detail and ability to see what others cannot see. They make exceptionally good proof readers.  They can look at a document that we have prepared and see a detail that we might have missed.  When reading over my own work I very often read what I think is there and not always what is really there when it comes some of the detail when it comes the spellings, punctuation and so on.

When we are so familiar with something, and that includes Scripture passages, we are in danger of missing some of the finer detail.  This is especially true of this passage.  The first title I gave to this reflection was “A captive of busyness” which at first glance seems to be what this passage is about.  It is how we have traditionally looked at it and have either sided with Martha because we are the busy ones or with Mary because we are the more reflective ones.

However, there is so much more  happening in this passage.  It is not just about the balance between doing and being.  It is not even just about the importance of catching time with Jesus which is essential if we want to grow in faith.  There is also a challenge here about the roles of women and men in society.  Martha was in the traditional role of the woman.  She was in the kitchen rattling the pots and pans.  Mary, on the other hand, was in the traditional role of the man.  She was sitting at the feet of the teacher, something that a woman would never have done in the time of Jesus.

Jesus came to redefine our relationship with God.  He came to redefine our relationship with each other.  He came to redefine our roles in society and to break down all barriers including those of gender that we might recognise the value and contribution of every human being.  Paul recognised this as well when he wrote in Galatians 3:28 that there is "neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Life with Christ is quite different in the change that he brings, a healthy change that tears down the traditions of the past that inhibit progress and the traditional roles that devalue others.

  • What traditions are important to you?  Which ones in light of this passage should be dismantled?  How might we value each other more and more?


Deliver me Lord, deliver me from the past,

all that holds me back and affects my view of others.

May my time at your feet change my outlook on life and how I view others.