Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.
But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
In the Gospel of Luke, this story of Martha and Mary immediately follows the parable of the Good Samaritan. In the Good Samaritan parable, Jesus holds up as a model a person who goes out of his way to serve his neighbor. Yet in today’s Gospel, Jesus seems to chide Martha for her hard work and service. One may wonder what it is about Martha’s service that Jesus rebukes.
Jesus notices that Martha is “anxious and worried about many things.” This anxiety of Martha seems to be Jesus’ primary concern. For Jesus knows that anxiety can be an obstacle to holiness. Amidst the busyness of our own lives, it can be all too easy to feel the stress and anxiety that Martha felt. Rather than allowing this anxiety to be an obstacle between us and Christ, it can be viewed as an invitation to draw closer to him.
How might Jesus be inviting you to a greater sense of peace today?
Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and graciously grant peace in our days, that, by the help of your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all anxiety, as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
—Embolism after the Lord’s Prayer, Roman Missal
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