Ah, we are such a Martha society. Our mantra sort of goes like this: “Go, go, go … I have to fill up my life with stuff … I have to get to the next appointment as fast as I can … I can’t live without activity and noise … I have to keep myself busy all the time … I have to make the extra buck … I can’t miss a function … I will die without my cell phone … so much to do, so little time … who’s going to do it if I don’t? Isn’t this what I am supposed to do … fill up my life with activity?”
Our lives fit the profile of Martha … and yet we long to be a Mary. That’s why I sooooo look forward to my retreats, especially in the summer, where I can be alone like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening, resting, relaxing, pondering, praying, and most of all, not worrying. And when I come back to the parish, I see obligations and tasks in a different light – those which are necessary, and those which I artificially constructed because of my lack of prudence or my lack of better judgment or bowing to people’s unrealistic expectations.
Our psalm response for the weekend tells us that just appreciating life is the definition of honoring God. The Lord Jesus desires that we make a place for Him, not only in our hearts, but in our homes and in the daily circumstances of our lives as well. We honor the Lord when we offer to Him everything we have and everything we do. After all, everything we have is an outright gift from God (1 Chron 29:14). Paul the Apostle urges us to give God glory in everything:
“Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17).
Sure, there are children to raise and responsibilities to meet, but today we are reminded that most of what we do goes beyond the necessary and relevant. Jesus says that Mary chose the better part, not Martha. And not that Jesus was condemning Martha. I’m sure he appreciated her concern for decorum and hospitality. Martha loved to serve, but in her anxious manner of waiting on Jesus, she caused unrest. Mary, in her simple and trusting manner, waited on Jesus by sitting attentively at his feet. She instinctively knew that what the Lord and Teacher most wanted at that moment was her attentive presence. Anxiety and preoccupation keep us from listening and from giving the Lord our undivided attention. The Lord bids us to give Him our concerns and anxieties because He is trustworthy and able to meet any need we have. His grace frees us from needless concerns and preoccupation. Maybe it’s time we slow down and smell the roses.
Fr. James Morgan