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" (Luke 10:38-42).
I'm digging Martha, and all she seemed to be feeling when Jesus visited that time. She had hosted Him and his friends before, and was good at it. I'm sure she enjoyed her work in the kitchen, taking great pride in attending to all the extra duties that come with having guests. But just as the bread was coming out of the oven, the fish was probably burning in the pan, soup boiling over and there sits younger sister Mary...at Jesus's feet, which was just not acceptable, especially when there was so much to be done. A few whining words to Jesus ought to get her back in the kitchen, but it doesn't. Rather Jesus reminds Martha gently of the importance of hearing/listening to His word. I don't believe His intention is to belittle Martha her job, instead to point out the fact that His word is lasting, the way to eternal life. So how do I find that balance? Not an easy answer...I'm clearly a Martha...a work in progress. But, perhaps in offering our days work as a form of prayer, doing everything to serve Him by serving others we begin to live His holy word. I think a slow-down from time to time is necessary too, although admittedly difficult in order to think, pray, and more importantly hear the words Jesus is speaking to us...through ordinary people and circumstances. Sometimes we have to leave the dishes and cleaning for a moment, and just sit at his feet and listen.
A prayer: St. Martha, patron of housewives, food service workers, and laundry workers, pray for me that I too may graciously serve Christ. Help me to choose the "better part," to not be distracted by my daily labors, rather to be attentive to His holy word. Amen.