Luke 10: 38-42
Mary and Martha
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home.
She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen.
Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”
Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part, it is not to be taken from her.
Listening to this passage of the Gospel again, we may think that it is boring and not listen to it properly, because we know this story very well. Perhaps, that is how it is for some of us, but we have also to remember that by reading the same part of any book many times and especially the Good News, we can learn more and more. Each time we read it we can learn something new from it.
So two women, Martha and Mary, both welcomed Jesus into their home. It must have been an amazing, exciting and interesting meeting. Imagine this; what would you do, if Jesus came your house today? Maybe you would be like Martha and cook Him a nice meal. Or would you be like Mary who listened to Him with all her heart and soul and mind? She gave herself completely to Jesus in listening to Him. This is a very interesting question for me and for everyone and we should think about it carefully.
The story of Martha and Mary has been interpreted fairly consistently over the centuries. Mary’s silent contemplative pose at the feet of Jesus is generally affirmed while Martha’s action, being so busy that she was unable to spend time with Jesus is seen as a less desirable Christian stance. To be a “Mary is to choose the better part”. To be a “Martha is to be anxious and distracted about many things”. Martha is a generous host who uses her resources for the sake of the community. She welcomes those who share faith in Jesus, among them her sister Mary. The designation sister does not necessarily denote blood relationship. Mary may be one among many sisters and brothers in faith who gather to hear the teaching of Jesus.
What can we learn from Martha and Mary? What would you do in their situation? Both welcomed a special Guest, who brought blessings and grace to their home. Mary was more interested in what Jesus wanted to share with them and Martha wanted to cook a nice meal. Today we live life in the fast lane, because we have a lot to do and therefore we do not have time to stop, to reflect on what we are doing and how we are advancing in our spiritual lives. I think Martha’s way has become the normal way of life for people today. Life for them is all action, all go! Mary chose the more difficult part of hospitality, listening to their guest and spending time with Him. Today’s generation prefers to be ‘doing’, to be active, instead of listening. Perhaps Jesus is speaking to us today. He may want us to do something we find difficult to do but, let us try to do it for Him. This is a challenge for each of us and each one of us has been called by Jesus to follow Him and to carry his cross.
In view of our better understanding of "there is need of only one thing," and "Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her," let us fix our eyes on the Word of God, so we too may be spiritually enriched. May this week be rich in blessings for us all, as we strive towards the need of only one thing, hearing the Word of God, so we may productively live our faith in Christ. May the grace of God be with you all, this week.
Usually people call the awareness during prayer of what is happening deep within them distractions, but these distractions are often messages to help us get our lives in order. Distractions can be of many kinds. If something painful from the past keeps popping into our head during prayer, this may signal that God wants to give us the grace of healing that wound, in prayer.
Does a Christian really need to go to Church on Sunday? Yes, he does! By going to Church on Sunday, he participates in the Holy Mass and receives the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Bread of Life. He worships in fellowship with his brothers and sisters in Christ. Where two or three are united in prayers, Christ is present. By going to Church on Sunday, he is open to an abundance of graces from the Lord God.
Fr Roman Szczypa SDB
Father, when I look at my own life, I'm often too busy to just listen to you. I'm an activist. I'm always wanting to be doing something. I have trouble sitting still before you. Please forgive me for my restlessness. Forgive me for putting my agenda before yours. Help me to listen with unclogged ears and a focused and attentive mind to what you want to teach me today.
We also need a bit of Martha in us to care for others and help them in their needs. We must get the balance right. If we put God first and spend time with him, especially in silence, alone be with him, He will help us in our business, so that in everything we do, we are aware of the presence and guidance of God. All we do, we do for him who first loved us.
O God, heavenly Father, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed rest and refreshment in the home of Mary and Martha of Bethany, give us the will to love you, open our hearts to hear you, and strengthen our hands to serve you in others for his sake, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.
In Jesus' name, I pray.