"Better"

This weekend we will hear again the Gospel story of Martha and Mary...

This story caused quite a ruckus among my RCIA team this past week. Much discussion over why Jesus would praise Mary over Martha. After all, Martha was doing all she could to make Jesus feel at home. So many of us work hard to be the perfect hosts, that we were a bit offended by Jesus' choice for the sister who sits there seemingly doing nothing...

I tried best I could to defend Jesus in this story...and Martha does come across with a bit of a snarky attitude...
But my team pointed out, the Scripture does say that Mary has chosen the 'better' part and it would not be taken from her...

I am pondering what does 'better' mean in this case?

Maybe it doesn't mean that she's right and Martha's wrong...

Could it mean that while hospitality requires both active work and a welcoming heart, what might be 'better' for us, is to, when we can, take the time to just listen to what Jesus is saying to us. That idea of centering ourselves in the God who loves us.

I think about what Sundays are like when you are busy in a parish. We do as much as possible to make sure folks feel welcome. We set lemonade stands on the street. We warmly greet folks at the doors. It is not often on a Sunday when, as a person involved in ministry, you might, we might, actually remember who calls us together for worship. It takes some actual effort to quiet ourselves down in the midst of all the folks and actually pray. Much the same way, when we're having company over our homes and trying so hard to be the consummate host, we may get carried away with the details and miss the opportunity to spend quality time with our guests.

Martha was doing a fabulous job. It sounds like she exhausted herself getting ready for a visit from Jesus. In hindsight, I wonder if she wished she had done things differently that day?

Mary, chose to take her place as a disciple and listen to what was going on right in front of her. She was paying attention to this moment with Jesus, and she didn't let anyone disturb that, not even a snarky older sister.

I'm guessing there must have been more than a bit of sibling jealousy there, and if this Gospel raises your blood pressure the way it did for my friends this week, I'm thinking that could be because we all recognize, whether we want to or not, the kernel of truth in the story: we say we want Jesus to be the center of our lives but it's too easy to let so many other inconsequential things get in the way.

May this re telling of the story of Martha and Mary gently remind us to take the time, as often as we can, to sit at the feet of the Lord and listen to what he wants to share with us in love. For in truth, isn't the best hospitality we can offer another to listen to them with all our heartfelt attention? What is Jesus trying to say to you this week?

Jayne PorcelliComment