“Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Yesterday’s gospel (Lk 10:38-42) immediately follows the Good Samaritan parable.  Jesus enters a village where he visits the house of the sisters Martha and Mary.  While Martha takes care of matters of hospitality, Mary simply sits and listens to Jesus.  Martha complains to Jesus about the lack of help her sister is providing, but Jesus points out Martha’s anxiety versus Mary’s decision to choose the “better part” (see the headline).  Folks familiar with this little story will sometimes try to categorize themselves as either more of a Martha (active) or more of a Mary (contemplative).  Because of Jesus apparent admonition, the tendency is to value Mary’s approach over Martha’s.  This may not be the right perspective.  Jesus did not rebuke Martha for the tasks she was performing for her guests.  She was doing a proper, even necessary, thing.  It was her interior disposition, manifested in her complaint to Jesus in front of her sister, that was problematic.  Martha could well have taken care of the necessary chores while listening to the “better part” Jesus had to offer.  And she could have taken a bit of a break, also, and no one would have blamed her for drinking in the Lord’s words in that way.  Instead, she grew increasingly irritated at the work she felt she must do and the lack of relief coming from her understandably absorbed sister.  Her mind clouded, and thus not listening at all, she not only interrupts Jesus to complain, but calls out her sister — sitting right there — as well.  Jesus gently tries to get her to refocus so she can appreciate what is going on in her midst.  So we should also keep focused on the Lord, never allowing anxieties, frustrations, or busyness to interfere, distort, or even block completely Jesus’ communication with us.  There are no circumstances that should ever cause us to deprive ourselves of the better part.  If we find this difficult to overcome, we must find the time and energy to take it to prayer.  Then watch the barriers come down.

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