“Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
In Sunday’s Gospel we heard a familiar story about two sisters who were both close friends with our Lord; Mary and Martha. Imagine the scene:
Jesus is invited over to dine with them, to share their meal and their home. He arrives just in time to see Martha bustling from room to room, sweeping here and there, getting the four course meal (straight out of Bon Appetite) ready for their honored guest and friend. She nods in the direction of Jesus, giving him a smile while she carries another pan from the kitchen to the dining room. There will be plenty of time to talk, after everything is perfect, she tells herself.
Meanwhile, Martha’s sister, Mary pours a glass of water for Jesus and sits with him in the living room, eager to hear his voice again, his words dripping with wisdom and love. Martha’s ire grows as she watches the tender scene between these friends. Perhaps her heart feels some envy, wishing she best online casino too could be sitting quietly with her master, sharing her heart with him. But someone has got to make sure everything is just right, she mutters under her breath.
Finally, she can stand it no more and walks over to them. Jesus, she says, can you believe my sister is just sitting here chatting with you when there is still a table to be set, and food to serve, and and and….her voice traveling a mile a minute, her eyes imploring him to admonish Mary for her laziness. Instead he gives her the warm smile that he’s known for, his eyes searching her tired, burdened heart.
“Martha, Martha…You are anxious and worried about many things, there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.”
Martha…put down the dishrag and meet me where I sit, waiting for your company.
Martha…I don’t want a spotless home and a gourmet meal. I want your heart, your undivided attention.
Martha…You are troubled about many things, but they aren’t what really matters.
Martha…Only one thing is needed. And I am sitting in your living room, waiting for you.
Of course, Jesus isn’t saying that we should let our homes become an episode of Hoarders. We all have those duties that are required of us based on our state in life, and part of living a life of virtue is fulfilling them. However, that doesn’t mean our attention to those tasks should come at the cost of neglecting our relationship with God. It would be better to have a messy home and a vibrant interior life than to have a home out of a magazine spread, but be so occupied with maintaining it that we never hear God”s voice. The one thing that is needed is our relationship with God. Without it, we will truly wither and decay, no matter the state of our homes or our cooking.
He is the one thing needed.
However, it is easy to forget that and to pull back from God when things get messy, when we feel like we can’t get control over all that is lacking in our souls. Our pride whispers, “I can’t let him see me like this, not when everything is a mess. Once I get things in order, then I can let him in.”
That’s all backwards. We don’t invite God in after everything is perfect. We invite him in so that everything can be made perfect through Him. Jesus doesn’t expect a spotless house or a gourmet meal when he arrives in the dusty home that is our stony hearts. He knows full well of what we are made, of the state of our souls. We can’t fool or impress him.
What can we do? Like Mary, we can choose the better part. We can lay the broom down, walk over to the chair and sit with our Lord, unburdening our hearts, sharing our mess with the only one who can truly make us clean.