“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 10:41-42
There’s a scene in a Dr. Seuss story, Horton Hears a Who, when all of these small Who’s have to get the attention of Horton the elephant and his other enormous neighbors. It takes all of their little voices together to make enough noise to be heard, as they cry out over and over: “We are here! We are here!
We are here!”
Surely a big piece of what Jesus is trying to convey in these gospel stories as he makes his way from town to town is simply that: “I am here! I am here!” I’m standing right in front of you. You who long for a closer walk with God. You who long for a sign that God is with you and for you. You who wish God would make himself known to you in a real way. “I am here!” says Jesus.
Jesus’ words that are recorded for us seem at least to convey: Martha, I am here! Emmanuel, God with you. I am here. Please enjoy our time together. Please allow yourself to be where you are, even for just a moment. As I mentioned a few chapters ago, “the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away,” (Luke 5:35) but right now, Martha, I am here. Be here with me.
That’s the opportunity that Mary seized, that her sister did not. The opportunity to notice Jesus’ presence.
And that’s where I am most convicted by this story. Because while I don’t think Jesus is saying service is wrong, and sitting still is inherently better, I do think he’s saying, “I am here!” and sometimes I’m far too busy to see him. I’m worried and distracted by many things instead of focusing on the one needful thing, which is to ask “Where is Jesus in this moment?” Is he sitting right in front of me, and I haven’t even noticed? Is Jesus in the joyful exuberance of a young child, or in a moment of meaningful conversation with a friend? Was Jesus present in a moment of silence I didn’t allow myself today, surrounded as I was by noise and chaos? Or, busy as I was with service – some of it truly good and worthwhile service – did I miss the face of Jesus in that person I was serving? Or in the face of a person that was serving me?
Do we focus on the one thing necessary or do we get caught up in the daily grind? We spend so much effort on our daily tasks, sacrifice to make time for exercise and maintain our health, and seek help through counseling and career preparation and advancement. How much time do we devote to our souls and the cultivation of the interior life? St. Ignatius pointed out that the spirit needs exercise, even more than the body, for when the body passes away we will be judged by the state of our soul
“You are worried and distracted about many things,” Jesus says, to all of us modern-day Martha’s. “There is need of only one thing.” Choose the better part.
Because no matter how many categories of life we may be trying to juggle on any given day, wherever we go, there we are. Trying to cover all the parts of our daily life.
What if we tried to really be there? And even more importantly, what if we managed to remember Jesus is there too
Prayer of The Day
“Lord, help me to seek Your still silent presence. Help me to surrender over my anxiety and worry. Jesus, bathe me in Your grace and help me refocus each and every day on You. Jesus, I love You. Jesus, I trust in You.”
Jesus was revealing a deep spiritual truth: that life cannot be lived to its fullest, and enjoyed to its utmost when we are always running around; when we are spending too much time at work; when we are worried and distracted by so many things. Sometimes we need to sit and rest and listen to what God is saying. That is the “better part” of it, as Jesus said. Life is to be lived in balance, with time spent nurturing our connections with friends and family, with the world around us, and with God. There are the important things in life, and we need to tend to them and care for them.