Gospel Luke 10:38-42

“You worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed”

Last week’s Gospel reading saw Jesus detailing the most important laws – love of God and neighbour, with the vivid imagery of the Good Samaritan beautifully illustrating who our neighbour is.

The Gospel today however seems to offer an interesting elaboration on the first and greatest commandment – that we must first love God.

As Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, listening to him Martha seems to grow increasingly frustrated, as she is busy with the important tasks of providing hospitality for their guest.

Her frustrations are ones that we all can no doubt easily relate with.

Martha, in this story, is an image of the modern person. We are so often tempted to rely upon ourselves – to focus on what we can do in any given circumstance.

Relying on our own steam, we can become consumed with relentless activity, (even objectively good activity), and miss what is truly important – the opportunity to commune with Christ – to fulfil that first commandment.

Absent from love of God, love of neighbour becomes thin and hollow, it begins to become a burden.

Jesus’ words to Martha are not condemning her work – work that is no doubt important. Instead, he is gently admonishing her, reminding her of the ultimate end, or goal, of her activity.

Martha has fallen into the temptation that continues to plague us today. The remedy, to spend time in a posture exemplified by Mary, at the foot of Jesus. Listening. In prayer and contemplation. Then our activities can be carried out in full awareness of the presence of him who came amongst us.

Point to Ponder

Martha and Mary are always inseparable, even if, time to time, the accent can fall on one or the other. The point of encounter between the two poles is the love in which we touch God and his creatures at the same time. “We have come to know and believe in the love that God has for us”. (I John 4:16) This phrase expresses the authentic nature of Christianity. That love, which is realized and reflected in multiform ways in the saints of all times, is the authentic proof of the truth of Christianity. – Pope Benedict XVI, Oct 21, 2014