Dear friends in Christ,

The story of Martha and Mary in today’s Gospel passage shows how different the ways people may choose to build relationships with God. Some believe that life consists of getting things done; living one’s faith mainly means getting involved in the many activities of the Church as if God is the one we serve and work for. Others understand life in its entirety as a journey in faith searching to know God, to love him, and to serve him.

Jesus does not deny the hospitality with many details that Martha tries to offer him, rather he wants to point out what could be better. He praises Mary because she chooses the “better” part, sitting at his feet and listening to him, affirming the goodness of God. There are several examples of this kind of company people have for Jesus in the Gospel: the sinful woman receives the gift of peace at Jesus’ feet; the demoniac sits calmly at the feet of Jesus after being healed; the healed leper proclaims praise and thanks at the feet of Jesus, and many others.

According to Mark’s Gospel, when Jesus chooses his disciples he does it for two reasons: to be with him and to be sent by him. Before sending them out to work for the Father’s Kingdom, Jesus teaches them how to pray. Spending time in prayer or sitting at Jesus’ feet, like Mary, is not a waste of time. It is the time for reconciliation, liberation, deepened faith, healing, resurrection, and mission.

Today’s Gospel lesson is choosing priorities. We first follow Mary, united with Jesus in mind, in heart, and in will, then do the things Martha is concerned about to serve God and his Kingdom. Both prayer and actions are necessary, but prayer should be first in order to make actions meaningful. Christian spirituality is to grow into union with Jesus so that we might worthily act in his name, as members of his Body the Church.

Fr. Joe