The story that we read in St. Luke’s Gospel for today is the familiar story of Mary and Martha of Bethany. Jesus addresses Martha by saying, “Martha, you are anxious and worried over many things. There is need for only one thing.” The one thing that is necessary is faith. Martha, like the scholar of the law, wants Jesus to justify her actions and make her sister do the same.
We live in a world that puts an emphasis on production. When we first meet someone, we often ask them what they do. When we introduce someone, we often include information about what they do. When I was a high school teacher, I was often asked what I taught. When someone dies, we usually compose obituaries that tell what the person did during his or her lifetime. The person that is the most productive is the person who receives a promotion. However, Jesus is more interested in who we are than in what we do.
Mary is held up as an example for us. She simply listens. She sits at the feet of Jesus and listens to him speak. Jesus claims that she has chosen the better part. If we consider the culture of the times and the place, Luke is making a very clear statement by his description. It would have been remarkable for first-century Palestinian Judaism that a woman would assume the posture of a disciple at the master’s feet. So the Gospel says volumes about the importance of listening to God’s Word, but it also tells us so much about the Church’s attitude about women as disciples.
Those of us who are limited by health concerns need not be anxious or worried over many things. We have need of only one thing – listening and believing in God’s Word.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator