38 As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. 39 She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. 40Martha, 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.” 41The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
Luke 10, NAB
I admit it, I identify with Martha. I’m not only the one who is busy doing the things that seem to need doing, but I also can’t understand why others (usually my kids) aren’t focused the same way. It’s a missing the forest for the trees thing that I understand intellectually but can’t really assimilate it into my life.
Part of it is excusable. My job tends to require long hours, so when I’m home I run around like a maniac trying to get things done. Home is where I recharge mentally and physically; to me the ideal vacation would be spent at home getting caught up. After all, home is what I work to pay for and what I provide to my family. I’m proud that the roof over our head is in a reasonable neighborhood with good schools. I like the idea that when my kids look in the refrigerator and announce there’s nothing to eat, it’s a figurative rather than a literal statement. Home is important.
The problem that Martha and I share is that we get caught up in the corporal world. There’s nothing wrong with things that are corporal – in fact Christians are taught the importance of corporal works of mercy, things like feeding the hungry and tending to the sick. If Jesus stopped by my house, you can bet that I’d want to serve him something tasty and make him comfortable, just like Martha did.
But Mary had a different focus. She understood that the opportunity to commune with Jesus on a spiritual level was an opportunity not to be missed. She truly did choose the better part. I believe that Mary understood that we’re all just passing through this world on our way to Heaven.
I expect that I’ll always run around the house like a maniac taking care of things. But at the very least, I’m going to try to remember that there is something better. If I pause, take a breath and say a short prayer in that time, it might help.