We might be inclined to condemn Mary for the apparent selfishness of her conduct or we might condemn Martha for the note of irritability that we detect in her complaint about her sister’s lack of co-operation in the task of serving.
Our Lord sighs at Martha’s undue agitation. Some erroneously think that Martha was being criticised by Our Lord – but on closer reading: He said “Mary has chosen the better part”. It means Martha has chosen something good too, but that Mary’s choice was better. Our Lord refers to something more spiritual, namely, to the need to pay ‘undivided attention’ to the things that truly matter (cf. 1 Cor. 7:35) – things that endure: faith, hope and love. One must set one’s heart on the kingdom of God (Luke 12:31) first rather than worry about other things. Our Lord’s approval of Mary’s eagerness to take the opportunity of listening to His word teaches us that as His followers we cannot allow ourselves to become so agitated in the pursuit of external duties that we never have a moment for prayerful recollection. I like to think that in daily life, both are needed, but we must never neglect the importance of things spiritual.
When was the last time we had a Spiritual Retreat, a moment of silent recollection with Our Lord, or simply a space in our daily lives to encounter Him in prayer? Who do we best resemble in this Sunday’s Gospel?
In His name, Fr Michael