Jesus Christ is the Lord of life and history, the Only Savior of the world, the Way, Truth, and the Life – so what is this “one thing” that Jesus is referring to in this Sunday’s Gospel when He says, “There is need of only one thing.”? (Luke 10:38-42) The one thing we all need for a meaningful and fruitful life is: living in communion with Jesus. And Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better part of that one thing, as she prays at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him, in contemplation. Martha, on the other hand, is more focused on action, busy serving and doing good for Jesus and others. Mary chose the better part because prayer must be the foundation of our activity. From our prayerful communion with Jesus, we can then actively serve Him well in our brothers and sisters – as prayer and action are necessary parts of communion with Jesus.
Martha was doing all kinds of tasks, and that is good. But Mary was listening to Jesus, learning from Him first, allowing herself to grow in prayerful communion with Him first. Both were doing good, but Mary chose “the better part.” Our daily task is to first listen to Jesus, in the midst of the cacophony of voices in the world today (technology, media, political agenda, etc.). Prayer, communion with God, must be the foundation to our actions. Martha was so focused first on what she was doing that she even told Jesus what to do: Lord, look at all that I’m doing; tell Mary to help me! Martha certainly loved Jesus, but she put what she was doing for Christ ahead of listening to Him. She was so focused on her tasks, on what she was doing according to her own plans, that she seemed to forget why she was doing them in the first place. So, when she complains, Jesus reminds her that being caught up in busy-ness can get in the way of listening to Him, of communion with Him, of loving Him. Martha needed to first let Jesus rule completely over her heart, to first sit at His feet and listen to His words, His Teachings, to God who is Love, and then do all things for Him.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, may we always focus on the one thing: living in communion with Jesus. At Mass (the perfect prayer of the Church), we follow the example of Mary and choose the better part, sitting at the feet of Jesus Christ, listening to His Word, receiving Him in the Holy Eucharist, Holy Communion (the Sacrament of Sacraments, the heart of the Church), growing in friendship and prayerful communion with Jesus. After Mass, we can then go forth, like Martha, and serve Our Lord as instruments of His love and mercy in our words and deeds. We choose the better part whenever we pray, listening to Jesus and His Teachings, through His Church, Word, Sacraments, communion of saints, consciously spending time with Him in prayer at the beginning and end of the day (as well as devotional prayers, such as the Rosary, Angelus and Divine Mercy chaplet). Strengthened by prayerful contemplative communion with Jesus, may we then strive by God’s grace to serve Jesus well in our actions, in our love for God and neighbor. As Saint Teresa of Calcutta has said: We can do no great things, but we can do small things with great love
With peace and prayers in Christ,