Memorial of Saint Martha

The sisters Martha and Mary have become iconic figures in spirituality, representing the different kinds of Christian lifestyles – Mary representing the contemplatives, sitting at the feet of Jesus – Martha the actives, being “burdened with much serving.” When Martha complains to Jesus that her sister is doing nothing while she is so busy, Jesus gently reminds her that there is only “one thing necessary” and that Mary has chosen the better part. We always need to hear this reminder. Being busy does not equal being holy.

Since most of us are busy and “anxious and worried about many things”, we can take a lesson from St. Martha. It seems what kept her ministry from being more fruitful was that her heart was so divided among “many things.” In contrast, Mary was focused on “only one thing” – and not just anything, but the only thing that can satisfy the human heart: God. So, our task is to grow in purity of intention. Our focus, our attention, our goals each day should be related clearly to God. Then, even though “burdened with much serving” at least our hearts will not be divided. Easier said than done – yes! But with God’s grace, we can daily grow closer to this goal.

July 29th, 2013