Front row seats can be expensive. My husband and I discovered this when we bought tickets to a U2 concert. So we chose to sit a bit further back. But, still it was exciting.
An ordinary-looking man stood in front of us. We noticed a lot of people stopped to say hello and shake his hand. Turns out, it was Bono’s brother.
Often we think of the front row as where the action happens.
But, being up front and close to Jesus can look completely different.
One woman in particular, Mary, the sister of Martha, shows us what it looks like on the front row with Jesus.
Luke’s Gospel tells the story of how Jesus came to Mary and Martha’s house. Although women didn’t have same opportunities to learn as men, or to be taught by a rabbi, Mary seized the chance in front of her in her own home.
Mary left whatever preparations were going on and sat at the feet of Jesus. This was the proper place for a disciple to be. There, Mary could listen to Jesus and learn from him.
Martha, on the other hand, a woman comfortable having an upfront role and making the action happen, was preoccupied. She opened up her house to Jesus. She was used to taking responsibility and being in charge. Yet, Martha nearly missed what was in front of her.
Cooking is not one of my strong points. I feel I have no control over what happens in a frying pan. Luckily for me, my husband loves to cook. So, with this story I’ve always thought it easier to identify with Mary rather than Martha.
But then I realized I sometimes have a bit of both Mary and Martha in me.
The other day, for instance, I went for my usual walk and to pray. Yet, every time I tried to concentrate on prayer, my mind wandered to my “to do” list and more, you know how it is.
I’m just like Martha, I thought. I have pans bubbling away on the stovetop of my heart. I’m getting all flustered and distracted.
But I wanted to be like Mary; to spend time with my Lord.
Each one of my distracting thoughts was like one of those pans. I needed to turn off the heat under each one, just for a short while, so I could press closer to Jesus.
I imagined turning off the heat under the anxiety about my son’s performance at school. I turned off the burner under my worries about our finances. I hesitated when it came to the results from a recent doctor’s appointment I was waiting for. For this, I turned it down to a simmer. All these things could wait a while.
I breathed a bit easier. Suddenly, I remembered the day—Good Friday.
And then I heard Jesus whisper to me, I am alive! Isn’t that wonderful?
Tears filled my eyes. I would have gone my whole day and missed this beautiful truth.
Is Jesus gently chiding you to forget about the action and instead, take the front row and sit and listen as his feet?