In today’s gospel excerpt (Lk 10:38-43) we come across the familiar story of Jesus staying with the sisters Martha and Mary. Martha gets upset with Mary for sitting and listening to Jesus while Martha busily attends to affairs of hospitality. She demands Jesus tell Mary to help her. Jesus tells Martha to overcome her worry and anxiety and closes with the words above.
What is the “better part”? Matthew tells us: “[sitting] beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.” (v. 39) Two things stand out here. First, and most importantly, is Mary’s disposition. She is humbly positioned near Jesus with her full attention on Him and her full submission to Him. This properly prepares her for hearing the Word of the Lord. What a lesson this is for us today! 1.) Staying close to Jesus. 2.) Listening to what He has to say attentively. 3.) Submitting to His word. A lifetime plan. Developing a relationship with the One we love (and who doesn’t want to know everything about, hear everything from, and do everything we can for the one with whom we are madly in love?) through prayer, encountering the Real Presence, and our relationship with our fellow man (see Mt 25:40, Mk 12:31, and Lk 10:25-37 for starters). Scripture, Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church (the Magisterium) give voice to Divine Revelation — does hearing some of this make up a part of our daily lives? Finally, being “all in” to obeying Christ by striving to perfectly submit to His will in our lives must be our goal (“God willing” is a good way to cap off any discussion of our plans). Mary was there. Martha, while undeniably doing important things, was clouded with worry and anxiety, as Jesus saw when looking beyond her activity and into her heart. Jesus does not criticize Martha for her hospitality (Jesus grew up with the perfect hostess) but cautions her about an interior disposition that blocks the Word and inadvertently looks to do the same in others. It is important that we do our duties well while always making sure that our actions always honor God and are never allowed to distract us or pull us away from Him.