Mary and Martha Go to Couple's Therapy
Gospel Reading for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)
(Mary and Martha sit in an office on a couch. Martha has her arms folded in defiance.)
Martha: Couple's therapy? Really?
Mary: We need to talk this out and I figured counseling would help us some...
Martha: It's couple's therapy, Mary. We are not a couple!
Mary: We're a couple of sisters.
Martha: Of all the stupid...
Mary: What was I supposed to do? Do you realize how many sermons have set us up as diametrically opposed? It's tearing us apart. We've been pitted against each other.
Martha: Yeah and they think you're the good one! (In a whiny voice) "Be a Mary in a Martha world." It's like I'm the epitome of all that's wrong with this planet. It's not like I was robbing poor people blind. I was making Jesus a meal for Pete's sake!
Therapist: How appropriate. I was just in session with Peter and his brother Andrew.
Mary: See? It's not just for couple couples.
Therapist: My apologies for being late. I can't really comment, but let's just say it would be difficult having an impulsive, occasionally loud mouthed older brother who was told he was the foundation of the church.
Mary: We understand. I'm Mary.
Therapist: Which makes you Martha?
Martha: Glad to see you earned that degree hung on your wall.
Mary: Forgive my sister. She has a bit of a chip on her shoulder.
Therapist: Well that's why we're here. I am going to let you two do most of the talking. I may ask a question here or there, but I don't want you to feel like I'm steering the ship. Usually the couple can best find their way forward with minimal input on my part.
Martha: We're not a...
Therapist: You are two people with a close relationship. In this room, you're a couple.
Martha: Fine. So who's going to go first?
Therapist: Your choice. You can both go.
Mary: All of this started when Jesus was in our town and Martha invited him to stay at our house, which was very kind of her.
Therapist: That was kind of you to compliment her like that, Mary.
Martha: I swear to my friend, if you take her side...
Therapist: I'm not taking sides. Your sister paid you a compliment. She said you were kind.
Martha: You're right. I'm sorry. Thank you, Mary.
Mary: It was kind.
Therapist: What happened next?
Martha: I was preparing dinner, which I'd like to point out is a biblically mandated thing that you're supposed to do for someone bringing the good news.
Mary: That's true. It's literally in the same chapter as our story. "Remain in this house, eating and drinking whatever they set in front of you."
Martha: So it's not like I was intentionally trying to be rude to Jesus, but...
Therapist: But what?
Martha: I was doing all the prep work and I was kind of ticked off at Mary because she was just sitting in the other room talking with the teacher.
Therapist: How did that make you feel?
Martha: Frustrated. A little angry. I wanted to be in there too. And I was upset she wasn't helping me.
Therapist: Mary, what's your response?
Mary: I get that. I really do. But...I mean, it was Jesus. Wild horses couldn't pull me away, much less prepping a casserole.
Martha: I get that too.
Therapist: Continue with the story.
Martha: So I was trying to get her attention. I banged pots and pans loudly.
Mary: One time she called out, "Sorry it's taking me, by myself, such a long, long time, Jesus." Subtlety is not her strong suit.
Martha: Eventually I had enough. I stormed in and demanded that Jesus tell Martha to help me.
Mary: That was a pretty big gun to pull out. Messiah, make my sister do household chores.
Therapist: How did Jesus respond?
Martha: He told me that I was distracted by many things and that one thing was missing, which my sister chose. He called it the better part.
Therapist: So he was saying that what Mary was doing was better?
Mary: Maybe. Kind of. I'm not totally sure. It's kind of fuzzy. Translating from Greek and all that. But can I say something?
Therapist: Of course.
Mary: I don't think he was condemning my sister. Maybe setting her straight for trying to force him to force me to work. But I think he was appreciative of what Martha was doing.
Martha: You do?
Mary: Yeah, like you said, you were doing what you were supposed to as a host. The work is one side of things and the devotion is the other side. He didn't want you to take away that time of devotion from me. So I don't think he was condemning work as much as he was reminding you that time spent with him was important too.
Martha: So you're saying it's not so much "Be a Mary in a Martha world," but "Be a Mary and Martha in the world"?
Mary: Maybe. I mean at this point I'm the figment of a 21st century blogger's imagination infused with a commentary he read. But yeah, I think that both sides are important. We're not enemies or opposite poles. We're sisters under the same house.
Martha: We are. We go together. And that means a lot coming from you. You're right, I have had a chip on my shoulder about all of this.
Mary: And I certainly don't think our whole story means that women are supposed to be quietly listening in church while the men do everything.
Martha: Oh, don't even get me started on that.
Therapist: I hate to do this because I think we are making some incredible progress, but I have another session with Paul and Barnabas coming up. Same time next week?
Martha: Yeah. Thanks Doc.
Mary: You want to get some dinner? My treat.
Martha: You know this doesn't make up for...
Mary: Yeah, yeah.
Martha: Thanks sis.
Mary: No problem.