How do we recognize ‘the better part’ – and why do we often ignore it?
Reflections on the readings for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 21, 2019): GN 18:1-10; PS 15:2-3,3-4,5; COL 1:24-28; LK 10:38-42
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Today’s Gospel recounts the story of Martha and Mary of Bethany who provide a useful example of how to understand and choose the important things of life – or not.
The two women, along with their brother Lazarus, are good friends of Jesus. But when Mary sits down to listen to Him while her sister does all the serving, Martha is annoyed. In fact, she goes to Christ and complains. She even wants Him to solve the problem by letting Mary know it’s time to get up and go to work! But Jesus knows that Martha has created her own trouble. “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’” (Luke 10:41-42).
If Martha had wholeheartedly gone about her tasks in generous service to our Lord, she would not have been focused on what Mary was doing. She would simply have offered her gracious activity to Him out of love. Or, Martha could have decided that she, too, needed to spend time paying attention to what their beloved Guest was saying. But she begrudged Mary her time with Jesus and fretted about how she was wronged by her sister who dared to embrace the joy of His presence. It might have even been a case of “misery loves company” – if Martha could not be with Jesus, then neither could Mary. Christ knew the hearts of both women. Surely He would have been happy to have a late dinner if it meant that the two sisters would sit down together and hear what He had to say. Jesus just wants Martha – and us – to be at peace and to choose one thing.