Playing Martha to My Husband’s Mary

My husband and I went in two different directions today.

He, a deacon, has been helping out in the last week before our new pastor arrives, so he preached at two Masses this morning.  He helped a kindly but somewhat befuddled visiting priest, hugged a newborn baby, talked to a hundred or so souls and wished them a happy holiday.

I cleaned the house.

I had attended the vigil mass yesterday, so I had fulfilled my obligation.  And we have company coming this week, so there was much to do.
And it’s been hot and dry, and the garden needed tending.  And I work fulltime.  And… well, blah blah blah.  Somehow, sitting here on Sunday afternoon, I feel like Martha to Jerry’s Mary.  He has chosen the better part.

I mention this because I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in sometimes letting the busyness of life keep me from what really matters.  All over America, there are mothers who spend so many hurried days ensuring that their families are well cared for—and who then try to squeeze in a little prayer time before dropping in exhaustion at day’s end.  My own children are grown, but I remember the press of day-to-day responsibility and how it could so easily overtake relationships, including (or especially) my relationship with God.

In the gospel of Luke, we hear about Jesus’ visit to the home of his friends Martha and Mary, where he is made welcome by the hospitable and hardworking Martha, while Mary sits enraptured at his feet, listening to him.  Jesus gently rebukes Martha for being “worried and distracted” by her many tasks and for her resentment of Mary’s behavior. Jesus reminds her that she needs only one thing:  She needs to focus on loving God and her neighbor as herself, and to do this one thing is to choose the better part—to be a disciple of Jesus.

For many of us in today’s frenetic society, that is a hard saying.  Easy to say, you mutter under your breath, but who’s gonna clean up this place?!

How do you resolve this in your own life?  How do you keep God first, yet get through all the stuff that sometimes seems to stand in the way of the spiritual life?

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

–Luke 10:38-42


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