So, what else do we know about this Mary?
Well, she was the sister of Martha and we hear something of them in Luke’s gospel. In Luke 10.38-42, we read about Jesus’ visit to Bethany, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.
“She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Mary has chosen the better part or better ‘portion’ as it says in some translations. Portion perhaps as in a portion of food? Mary has chosen the better food, the one, true, living bread of life, even better than your cooking, Martha, it will not be taken away from her, Jesus explained.
Who did this Mary think she was? No woman could just ‘sit at the feet’ of a Rabbi, because to do that would mean the Rabbi had adopted her as his pupil. In this simple act, Jesus had elevated Mary to the status of a man and had communicated to her and all her community, her infinite value, because he had chosen her to be his pupil.
So much of the suffering in the world stems from inequality between men and women. This inequality can result in female infanticide, girls never going to school, forced child marriages, female genital mutilation and gender-based violence. Yet Jesus, our God, invited Mary, a woman, to be be his pupil.
Pray today for anyone you know who is affected by these issues and pray that we all learn to honor each other, as we’re all made in God’s image. If you’d like to know more about the work Tearfund does to combat gender violence, you can read Amina’s story, and other women’s stories, at Tearfund.org.