I was sitting last night and reflecting on yesterday’s Gospel passage from St. Luke. It was the short and familiar story of Martha and Mary when Jesus comes to their house for dinner. Martha, “burdened with much serving” comes to complain to Jesus that Mary is not helping her, but instead is sitting with Jesus. And Jesus responds, remonstrates Martha, telling her “you are anxious and worried with many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
We always talk about that passage as the juxtaposition of the active and the contemplative. Martha, running around doing all sorts of work activities, rather than sitting at Jesus feet like Mary. Read that way, it is difficult to really understand Jesus’ characterization of Mary as having chosen the better part, because we know that we need a union of the active and the contemplative.
When I read it last night, however, I heard Jesus’ words to Martha differently – really hearing him addressing her anxiety and worry. And when I really heard Jesus’ comment about Martha’s anxiety and worry, I saw the juxtaposition as, not about action vs. contemplation, but about anxiety and worry vs. trust. Martha has a ton of things preying on her mind, worrying her. Mary, however, has the ability to rest in Jesus, giving over to him whatever may be her cares and woes.
Read that way, it is far easier to understand Jesus’ comment that Mary has chosen the better part. To put all in the hands at Jesus, and to rest at his feet.
And so I sat with the simple prayer, Let me be more like Mary. Grow my trust in You.