Martha and Mary
Gospel Reflection for 16th Sunday Ordinary Time Year C – July 17th 2016
Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘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.’
Luke 10: 38-42
The contrast is between two types of food, both of which we need in life.
A principal part of christian life is our listening to the word of God like Mary. That’s where we find the motivation to find God in the pots and pans and ordinariness, where most of us spend our lives, like Martha. .
Someone said – ‘my children have left home, now I can serve the Lord!’ If she had listened to the word, she would have known that in loving her children she served God!
Listen in peace – Martha was warned about fretting and worry. The quality of her cooking was not in question! The better part is to listen so that we can work in service of others with love. Love grows at the feet of the Lord.
Otherwise our service can be grudging. Why should I do it all? Or self-serving – look how lovely my tea is! Or fussy – ‘go on, go on, go on, have another cup’. Prayer teaches us to serve others with love.
Jesus reveals himself everywhere and in everyone. But our ears are attuned by prayer with him. We learn his language and listen. If we spend time at his feet, we will be helped to recognise him everywhere.
So the lady in question – she had served God all her life. She had the prayer part. If we give time to the better part – listening in prayer, then we will find the better part in service too, while knowing our service is valued.
Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger