Jesus was always pushing the boundaries. He ate with sinners; he condemned the righteousness of the Pharisees and he forgave the sins of those he healed. This is what ultimately got Jesus in trouble with the religious authorities of his day.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is once again pushing the boundaries for his time. Generally, men were students. Women were to manage the house and serve; not study at the feet of a teacher. And yet, here was Mary listening intently to Jesus to learn from him in the presence of the men who were there too.
Martha invited Jesus into her home and immediately began to scurry around preparing something for Jesus and the others who normally travelled with him. Martha is frustrated that she is the only one working to feed the guests. Martha resented that Mary was too busy listening to Jesus to help prepare the meal for Jesus and those with him. She asks Jesus to make Mary help her prepare the meal.
Jesus responded “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” That statement defines us today. We are so busy and torn in many directions with the busyness of living. There are baseball practice and games, gymnastic lessons and competitions, vacations to plan, pack and travel, there are even meals to prepare for the family.
It’s hard to keep up with it all. We get anxious and up tight. Like Martha, we are always doing something. It seems that we don’t have any down time to refresh our spirits.
It’s not that the tasks that Martha was doing were wrong. Someone must do all these things. We must take care of our families, we must work to provide for housing and food for them, to spend time teaching and playing with them. Even within the church, it’s possible to be so busy helping others that we lose sight of the real purpose that we serve. The spirit of Christ must show in our lives when serving others. And that is difficult to do when everything is out of control around us.
Mary, on the other hand, is contemplative. She is sitting at the feet of Jesus and spending time learning from him. We have such little quiet time in our world today. And Social Media doesn’t help any. We are checking to see what someone said about us on Facebook, responding to texts from family and friends, reading the latest Breaking News and weather reports. We watch our favorite shows on tv and listen to the radio when we are in our car.
We seldom have time to be quiet and listen for God to speak to us, for God to guide us and show us his will. What can we do?
We must be doers like Martha, or nothing will get accomplished. But we must act like Abraham who served out of a desire to serve, not because it had to be done. And we must be contemplative like Mary so God can truly work through us and our spirit can be refreshed.
We are unable to serve others as Jesus serves without spending some quiet time with him. Without the quiet time, we become so consumed with the busyness of serving that it comes across as a chore without the love of Christ in it.
How do we find the quiet time with Jesus so we can serve with love? We can start by setting aside five minutes a day to read the Daily Mass Readings which can be sent to your phone from the USCCB. Then we can spend a couple of minutes in prayer, asking God to help us share the true spirit of the Gospels when we serve others. It will be difficult to set aside five minutes a day, but it is necessary for our spiritual growth. The tasks still need to be done and we need to spend time with Jesus.
What will this coming week be like for us? Will we be like Martha working hard just to get the tasks completed? Will we be like Mary spending time with Jesus to learn his will for our lives? We must somehow meld both into our lives so that the love of Christ is visible to those we serve.
How will we respond to Jesus’ comment about the better part? Will we continue our busy way just completing the tasks to get them done? Or will we commit to set aside five more minutes a day to let Jesus fill us with his love and share that love with others? Will we break the boundaries that society has established today and help those in the margins; the orphan, the widow, the stranger, the poor, the incarcerated, the unborn and the immigrant?
Will people see God’s love in us when we serve others?