Martha`s Challenge

Meditating with Fr. Frank

Last Sunday, on July 21st, we celebrated Sunday 16 in the Ordinary Time of the Liturgical Year C. 

We mediated on the personal encounter with Jesus, by the two sisters, Martha and Mary, according to the Gospel of St. Luke 10:38-42.

Sacred Scriptures tell us that Martha and Mary, and their brother Lazarus, admired Jesus and were close friends (Jn 11:1-4, 11).

In Gospel reading according to St. Luke 10: 38-42, we learn that Jesus paid a visit to Martha and Mary in their home in Bethany, located just less than 2 miles from the City of Jerusalem, and he was given a warm hospitality. And when dinner was being served, Martha approached Jesus to complain about her sister, Mary, for not helping with the serving. Jesus pointed out to Martha that she was indeed being distracted by worrying about many things, yet only one thing was needed, and that her sister Mary had chosen the better part, sitting by his feet listening to his words of wisdom.

This was not a criticism per se of Martha for doing something good at the wrong time, neither was Jesus being dismissive of Martha’s kind gesture of serving him a good meal, but on the contrary, Jesus used this teachable moment to remind Martha and Mary, and all his disciples including us, that there is more to life than worrying all the time about material stuff. That even in the midst of our busy lives we must make time for God, so as to develop a closer and personal relationship with our Creator. Yes, we need time to work and put food on the table, time for a good vacation, but not at the expense of our spiritual lives. We are body and spirit. Our spiritual lives need nurturing and nourishment the same way we care about our physical lives. Sacred Scripture teaches us: “There is time for everything … time to work, and time to pray” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).  The Lord Jesus teaches us: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Mt.4:4; Deut. 8:3).

Christ with Martha and Mary

So, by the statement ‘Mary has chosen the better part’ Jesus invites each one of us to give Him our undivided attention, and our undivided heart, so he may nourish us spiritually by the word of God, which is “sprit and life (Jn 6:63; Heb 4:12-13). Didn’t the Lord teach us: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures for eternal life which the Son of Man will give you”? (Jn 6:27). When we purposely put off our time for prayer, or our Sunday obligation, just to do other stuff like going shopping, or watching our favorite movies, shows or sports, or simply staying in bed, we have already made a choice to live only by bread alone. Needless to say, the Lord is fortunate to get even a minute of our time out of the 24 hours a day from some people. Yet we know, that without God, nothing moves, not even a breath of our life is even possible. As St. Paul confesses: “For in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

The takeaway is that the story of Martha and Mary challenges us to keep things in balance: by making time for God, and seeking to develop a close and personal relationship with Jesus, even in the midst of our busy lives. In other words, we can be both Martha and Mary at the same time. AMEN.

Peace be with you

Fr. Frank

Martha and Mary by Maurice Denis, 1896



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