The biblical story of Martha and Mary is often interpreted as the excellence of the contemplative life, represented by Mary, who sits with Jesus, and the active life, exemplified by Martha, who is busy with housework. The key to our interpretation is the understanding of Jesus’ words, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42b)

This is certainly one way to understand what Jesus is saying, but he is not necessarily saying that one way of life is better than another, but rather that the important thing for believers is to pay attention to and nourish their personal connection with him. In other words, it’s about our priorities. The housework still has to be done, but what is the most important thing to focus on as we go about our daily life? Mary has no need to worry, because Jesus is with her.

In photography the camera will only focus on the area of the image you tell it to. If you use a wide open aperture, everything in the plane of focus will be sharp, while the rest of the image will be rendered softly out of focus. I’ve included some images that illustrate this.

Simplifying an image, leaving out anything that is unnecessary or that doesn’t add to the story, is a way to focus the image’s message. Simplifying our life is letting go of or adjusting what gets in the way of our connection with Christ, who is the focal point of who we are and what we do.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.” (Luke 10:41-42a)

2 thoughts on “Simplify

  1. What a wonderful illustration of prioritizing what’s important! Thank you for a different interpretation of the Martha and Mary story.


    1. Thanks for your comment. The Bible stories can nourish us in many different ways.


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