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24th November: One Dish is Enough

Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me. Lk 10:40

The anxious spirit spoils the party. Obviously, it spoiled the party for Martha. What had started out as an act of joyous service had turned sour. Having spoiled the party for herself, Martha spoiled it for everyone else. She spoiled the party for her sister, Mary. When Martha summoned Mary to help, she didn't tap her on the shoulder and gently ask her to come to the kitchen. Instead, she turned the request into a public rebuke, and a sensitive soul like Mary must have shrivelled under the open scolding. Martha spoiled the party for the disciples. We don't know how the dinner ultimately turned out, but we can be confident that the disciples didn't enjoy it. Martha had covered it with the gravy of hostility. In fact, Martha spoiled the party for Jesus. `Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to serve alone?' That's what happens when we push beyond our limits and take on too much. We get angry at God.

`If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well' can drive us over the edge, and we do our loving deeds with an unloving attitude. Jesus rebuked Martha and said, `One dish would have been enough'. In other words, Jesus says, `If a thing is worth doing, it may be worth doing simply'. The disciples needed to be fed, but soup and sandwiches would have been sufficient. In fact, a simple meal would have been much more acceptable if it were served in an atmosphere of love free of anxiety and tension.

Certainly, there are times for excellence and the extra effort, but we have over-committed ourselves if what we do springs from an anxious and troubled spirit. One dish served in love is better than a dinner served in fretfulness and anger. For those of us who tend to take on too much and tell ourselves that we must do it well, we must be reminded that often `one dish is enough'. That is a sensible lesson for spiritual survival: `If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing simple'.

Better a little with the fear of the Lord
than great wealth with turmoil.
Better a meal of vegetables
where there is love
than a fattened calf with hatred.

Pr 15:16-17 (NIV)

Further reading: Lk 10:38-42


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