Jesus was very fond of the three of them. Lazarus is the only man in the history of mankind who has had the distinction of dying twice, for his first death was interrupted by Jesus.
In Luke, Jesus visits the three and Mary seats herself at Jesus” feet to listen to him and Martha complains to Jesus. He should say something to Mary as Martha is doing all of the housework and meal preparation that is involved with company. Mary is just sitting. Jesus’ response to Martha is that Mary has chosen the better part (listening to him) and it shall not be taken from her. Moreover, Jesus tells Martha that she allows herself to be “troubled about many things.”
Rudyard Kipling would take the story in a completely different direction. Kipling (1865-1936 was a British writer. He was prolific being the author of poems, short stories and novels. He was widely read in his time, not so much today. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, the youngest person to ever receive that honor. He was the author of Captains Courageous (1897), Kim (1901), and The Jungle Book (1894.) Both Captains Courageous and The Jungle Book were made into popular motion pictures. He was also the source of some pithy observations: “East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet, and “A woman is only a woman but a good cigar is a smoke.” Some regard him perhaps incorrectly as an author of books for youth.
Some are familiar with Kipling’s work as a poet. He published ”Gunga Din” in 1890. This is a poem about a native Indian water carrier who brought water to the troops in the most dangerous circumstances (“By the living God that made you you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.) This poem was the basis for an Oscar-winning film that appeared in 1939. Kipling was the author of “If” a poem about perseverance and endurance, a poem that has been engraved in many places including the tennis stadium at Wimbledon. He was also the author of the outrageously politically incorrect poem. “The white Man’s Burden” (1899) that depicts British imperialism as a philanthropic exercise undertaken by the British in order to bring the benefits of Christianity and western civilization to the benighted colored people who sat in the darkness of their native cultures.
Kipling gave the story of Martha and Mary his own twist. Kipling’s time was the era of heroic engineering when projects seemed more than equal to the human imagination, the Panama Canal, Brooklyn Bridge and Hoover Dam to cite three examples.
Kipling was a prime mover in the Order of the Engineer which began at the University of Toronto in 1925. This movement also came to the United States, appearing for the first time at Cleveland State University in 1970.
The Order is a social movement that became popular in Canada and somewhat in the United states particularly among civil engineers. At the heart of the Order are two things: An oath wherein the engineer swears to serve humanity and make the best use of the Earth’s precious wealth. In fact, this is close to the definition of engineering in that engineering is problem solving for the good of humanity. The second part is the conferring of a ring of steel to be worn on the little finger of the writing hand to be a constant reminder of the engineer’s responsibilities whenever writings or drawings are done.
Luke speaks to us of Mary but in “The Sons of Martha” (1895) Kipling praises the engineers who “tally, transport and deliver.” It is the engineers who “restrain the waters and move the mountains…. it is they who “raise the stones and cleave the wood.” The Sons of Mary “cast their burden upon the Lord, and the Lord lays it on Martha’s Sons.”