Mary & Martha – Baltimore, Maryland (1907)

For this warm Sunday in July, a consideration of the spiritual life.

The Gospel of St. Luke includes a number of instances in which Jesus meets particular individuals and addresses specific, very earthly, problems.

Here is the whole account:

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary,  who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was  distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him  and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the  work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord  answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one  thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be  taken away from her.”

The account is hard to incorporate into a comprehensive “Life of Jesus” because (like many Gospel accounts) the place is not specified.

And, this mention of Mary and Martha makes no reference to a brother (Lazarus) who appears with sisters of the same names in the Gospel of St. John.

This postcard illustration was sent as an Easter Greeting from Alice and Albert in the Spring of 1907.

Addressed to Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Rider of  York, PA, the postcard was mailed from Baltimore.

Published by the Knight Company (which appears to be an English firm), the postcard was printed in Berlin.

I cannot find documentation of “The Knight Series”.

There are many isolated internet references to the Knight Brothers who were prolific publishers of illustrated postcards in the Edwardian Era.

The artist is not identified.

Saints, sages, and theologians have offered interpretations of this simple interchange throughout the history of Christendom.

The Wiki link summarizes the range of lessons to be drawn – ranging from the importance of “few things”, the contemplative life, the role of deacons, the church on earth and in Heaven, and the progress in a life of devotion.

What I liked about the picture and the lesson is that both sisters are devoted, both are engaged in acts of love.

The gentle reproof of Jesus is most concerned with attempts to remove Mary from her attentive and avid listening.

To make a contemporary application, the “busyness” and frantic activity of the devout must be informed by a profound attention to the Divine voice.


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