What Martha and the thief missed

by MW Cook

It’s fun that Jesus uses plain, simple speech. He generally leaves the sophisticated arguments to others. Simple and hard–some nearly too hard.

Give to the one who begs of you
If forced to go one mile, go two
If you are sued for your shirt, give up your coat, too.
If someone breaks in a tries to steal your TV, make sure they take the right remote with it.

This all seems too radical to pull off. I know a lot of people who say Jesus never really meant it the way it seems like he said it—that’s how heavy it is. Like ideals made for another world.
One day Jesus was visiting Martha and Mary. Mary hung out with him while Martha cooked and cleaned and played the proper host. It was a lot of work. Martha tried to get Jesus to tell Mary to help. Reasonable. Lots of work to be done.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed, or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better.”

Soto monk and hermit Ryokan (1758-1831) was a strange one. One night he came home to discover a thief—even though there was nothing in his tiny hut to steal. Ryokan didn’t feel right about sending a guest away empty-handed, so he gave the thief the clothes he was wearing. Meditating later, naked in his empty hut, he looked up at the night sky and wrote a haiku.

The thief left it behind:
The moon
At my window.