Well stocked is an understatement for this kitchen. It is abounding with absurd amounts of fresh meat, game, exotic fruits and vegetables: there is barely room for the kitchen maids to work. And every remaining nock and cranny is filled with a wine cup or goblet. The impending festivities do not seem to be limited to food and drink; the semi dressed figures behind the central maid suggest sexual indulgences too.
The scene is purposefully set against the scene we can see through the doorway in the back of the picture. Here in subdued tones we see Christ with Mary sat listening at his feet and Martha interrupting their conversation. Martha complains that it is unfair that she is left to do all the domestic work, but Jesus rebukes her, saying that Mary has chosen the better response.
This picture reminds us that we can get too enthralled in preparing the material aspects of our Christmas celebrations. We could be less ambitious, less profligate, less demanding of the time we must spend on these preparations and instead have time to sit and wait at Jesus’s feet.
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.’