Doesn’t this story from Luke’s gospel irritate you just a little bit? How can it be fair that Mary, who did nothing other than sit and listen to Jesus, received praise from the Lord? Saint Martha (whom we honor today) did all of the serving and welcoming to make Jesus comfortable, yet Jesus criticizes her for worrying too much. Huh? Aren’t we called to take care of our friends and to show hospitality to those we love and admire?
Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“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.”
What does Jesus mean? He doesn’t mean that we should ignore our household responsibilities. What he wants us to learn from the story is that listening and absorbing the word of God always has to be our first and most sacred priority.
Everything else can wait.