At first glance, the story of Martha and Mary seems to be an obvious sibling rivalry (Lk. 10). Each of the women wanted to show Jesus the hospitality of a Jewish home. Jesus was very close to this family and so, often visited when he needed rest from his hectic ministry of preaching and healing.

We easily dismiss Martha as a woman who showed Jesus a merely external hospitality. Preoccupied with food and drink, Martha wanted to fill the physical needs of a tired and hungry visitor. Surely though, Martha’s busy-ness was a product of her deep love for Jesus. She would not enslave herself with these physical preparations if Jesus were not important to her. And Jesus did not demean Martha’s efforts. In the end, the Lord just wanted Martha to be more comfortable, more relaxed in his presence and to welcome him in her heart most of all.

We also easily extol Mary’s as the one who showed Jesus an interior hospitality. What she lacked in culinary expertise, she complemented with an availability and readiness to listen to Jesus’ experiences and stories about his too adventurous life.   She too, loved Jesus that nothing else mattered to her except his presence.  Jesus enjoyed the companionship, the presence and the time Mary lavished on him.

Instead of seeing in the sisters a rivalry, we can see in them a mirror of reality. Each of us shows love in different ways. The attitudes of the two women show our own ways of expressing our love.

Some people, while not physically or verbally expressive, show love through actions. Many parents are quiet but they work in the fields the whole day to feed, clothe, and send the children to school. Some children are not cuddly but happily help in the house or in the business to ease their parents’ pain. Many people who work in faraway lands cannot hug or kiss their families as much as they want to, but surely their sweats and sacrifices say it all.

There are of course, people who are more expressive of affection. They can verbalize their feelings. They can make others feel their nearness, their support, their care. They can spend time caring for the sick, attending to the elderly, baby-sitting children. They can afford to leave behind many tasks so that they can focus on a single friend or relative that needs their help.

With whom do we identify when it comes to showing love? With Martha or with Mary? Let us ask the Lord that in our own way of loving, we may focus on him and on our loved ones with sincere love.