In the post below, the comments rock-skipped from Martha Stewart to Mary and Martha, the dear friends of Jesus, sisters to Lazarus.
Luke summarizes the story:
Now it came to pass, as they went, that [Jesus] entered into a certain village: and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Women can identify with Martha, I know I can. I can hear her voice, with a bit of an exasperated whine in it, in my own mouth or head, when I feel under-congratulated and under-thanked. In my worldly life, I can easily feel put-upon, the heroine, the ever-faithful daughter, sister, aunt, neighbor, manager, friend. In work and in volunteer church life, since essentially the same roles exist, I can occasionally feel pretty much the same way. Even in my spiritual life, I can even feel unrewarded: "Lord, I put all this face time in, all this spiritual reading and study, and I pray every night and every morning, even when I have a headache blah blah blah....what blessings am I getting?"
In classic meditation practice, picturing all the players in your mind, can't you picture Martha, like that lady in that commercial, flicking a little flour in her face, to appear at the living room door looking even more careworn and exhausted with serving?
Correctly understanding Mary as contemplative, and not just passive and relaxed, at the very least, I can yearn for a more Mary-like role. In either case, I think women can project themselves into the Scripture story, sitting quietly and listening, deeply concentrating on the loved one, or flippin' them hotcakes and shakin' out them rugs and nobody even says that the dinner was good, just shoved it in and left.....
Can men project themselves into the story without too much psychological straining? Do they inevitably see themselves in a too-human Jesus, repressing a roll of His eyes when Martha appears at the door with a frustrated dishtowel in hand?
(For extra credit: can women project themselves as easily as men into the story of the Prodigal Son?)