The Gospel reading for today is one that invites each of us to take a look at our own lives and into the anxieties and distractions that we often experience. Many of us can potentially insert our own names into this passage; identifying ourselves most with Martha as we too may overlook choosing the "better part".
Being aware of the presence of God in our lives and working towards remaining attune to Him can enable us to accomplish our works with much greater ease. It can also help us to prioritize our tasks. Thursday's Gospel reading reminded us that we are invited to cast all of our burdens upon Jesus..."Take my yoke upon you and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light."(Matthew29:29-30) It is easy to become overwhelmed and distracted as Martha did by the pressures of life and yearning to please others. As responsibilities pile upon our shoulders we can feel as if we work alone; losing sight of our Lord and His providence by becoming consumed in the noise of activity and deaf to His words.
Jesus calls us away from our tasks and burdens as He did with Martha by reminding her what the "better part" was. Though Martha's intent was pure and seeking to serve our Lord, there is something much more beautifully selfless in what is most pleasing to Him. It is not a matter of self-flattery by which Jesus declares Mary's choice to be the 'better part', but it is a statement made out love and desire to provide Martha with the sustaining peace, joy, and strength that His presence and counsel can bring to her. Jesus also affirms through this that it is far better to be in communion with one another, sharing time, and listening to each other, rather than perpetually busying ourselves with what we deem to be productive and necessary work.
I was moved in two directions while reading this Gospel. The first asserted the need to constantly practice the presence of our Lord and to cast my burdens upon Him so that I may fulfill all of my tasks in the way that He wills. Secondly, I am reminded of our call as Christians to receive others as if we are receiving Christ. The way that we treat our brothers and sisters so too do we treat our Lord.
Jesus reminds us today of our need to sit with Him and listen in order that we may grow in a relationship with Him and remain aware our need and His constant desire to be part of our lives. It is the "better part" to sit attentively before His feet so that we not only remember His majesty, but that we come to know His immense love for us. By being present at the feet of our Lord we can learn how to be most present to our tasks and also to those we encounter. Let us strive to always choose the "better part" by sitting attentively and listening to our Lord. (C.C.)