Gn. 18:1-10a; Ps. 15; Col. 1:24-28; Lk. 10:38-42
(Audio recorded live, 17 July 2022)
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” How many of us have felt like Martha? The truth is all of us feel like Martha most of the time. And do you know what feeling like Martha does to us? It stresses us out, makes us angry, causes our righteous indignation to flare, and we, too, lash out like Martha at those around us, even at Jesus. When Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet, Martha orders Jesus: “Tell her to help me.” Who does this Martha think she is, commanding the Lord? Some gracious host she was, thinking she can order him around. Ought not she have been with her sister listening to Jesus speak? It is difficult to listen, however, when one is so busy barking orders at the Son of the Most High. This should give us all pause. And while work is a necessary part of life, as St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians, those who do not work should not eat, yet we need to take time for proper rest (2 Thess. 3:10). Martha and Mary, therefore, represent two sides of the same coin. The one side is busy and anxious, while the other is at peace and calm. How often do we seek to be at peace and calm? The Scriptures tell us be still and know that I AM God.
Now, some might say, “Easier said than done. There’s laundry to fold, houses to clean, kids to teach, meals to be made, work to be done, lawns to be mowed,” and on and on. Well, that’s the Martha in us speaking. But, what about the Mary side of things? Have we pressed the pause button on all the busyness of the day so we can sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to him? Are we too busy doing our own thing, or worse yet, what the world is telling us to do, than to take time and listen to what God wants us to do. In the Our Father, we pray Thy will be done, not my will.
The next three years are focused on Eucharistic revival. I wonder how much more peace we could have if we all spent more time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? We could accomplish this by attending an extra daily Mass during the week, spending a little time in church in front of the Tabernacle, or doing a Holy Hour. Jesus is present in the Most Blessed Sacrament in every Catholic church. Wherever you are, find that church, and be like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. I know I would not be here today if not for the countless hours I spent in churches and chapels wherever I went. On my way back home from night school, on the road with the band, before work in the morning, whenever I could sit in the Real Presence of our Blessed Lord, I was always at peace, and that peace continues today.
Jesus tells Martha, “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Once we have established a clear connection to our Blessed Lord, there is nothing better and it can never be taken from us. Jesus has already sacrificed his life for our sake, and he is constantly inviting us to follow him. Sacrifice is no easy task. It means we have to give up some of our anxieties and worries; we have to learn to put a pause on those things that keep us too busy to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to him. Sure, there’s work to be done, there’s always work to be done. That will never change, but unless we make time for God, our work will be in vain.
And so, as we reflect on the story of Martha and Mary, let us be mindful of our own work and toil, our anxieties and worries—the Martha side of the coin—and let us temper them by sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him—the Mary side of the coin. St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, “Just as there are two coinages, one of God and the other of the world, each with its own image, so unbelievers bear the image of this world, and those who have faith with love bear the image of God the Father through Jesus Christ.” We are of God, so let us listen like Mary. The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Mary was listening and Jesus said she has chosen the better part, as do we, whenever we approach the altar.