Reflection for October 8th 2019 on LK 10:38-42
Today’s Good News is a timeless Martha-Mary chestnut, you know the one: two sisters host Jesus, and while sister Mary sits and listens beside Jesus, sister Martha putzes and preps and does all the work playing host. “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” Implores Martha.
Jesus instead replies ““Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
As a checklist zealot, I will always feel a kinship with frazzled Martha here. Martha is literally serving the Lord – it’s because she’s running around getting everything ready that Mary gets to have her connective Jesus time. Basically, I feel for my girl. It’s also though why this story always hit so powerfully for me. I think many of us have some Martha in us, especially us in “church world” sometimes.
Look again at how powerfully simple Jesus’ message is: There is need of only one thing. Being with, being in harmony, with God’s love. That’s it.
How many of us get preoccupied with all the trimmings of our faith and miss the forest from the trees? If we don’t say the exact wording of the prayer it must not work; if we don’t have the right color stole for the priest how can we possibly celebrate mass; if I don’t make the sign of the cross in every holy water basis at church, how can I receive the Eucharist?!
We Catholics love the minutia, and those sprinkles are some of things I love about my faith, but when we get too anxious and preoccupied with them, they can cloud “the better part” that Mary chooses. There is need of only one thing.
It can feel so much more natural being Martha, of feeling the need to run around and work for God’s grace. But Mary already knows it’s right there in front of us, waiting for us to sit and pay attention. This week let’s try and find our Mary moments. Let’s be intentional and focused on simple being present. Let’s simply bask in the love that moves the sun and stars, and let go of the mindset of earning a place in God’s presence. Let’s remember that choosing this better part, remembering this need of one and one thing only, will not be taken from us.