The lives of the saints help us in so many different ways. In the case of St. Martha, it’s often her folley. I can relate to her more than I’d really like to admit because when I am given the choice to work or to spend quiet time in prayer with the Lord, I really have to force myself to pray. I would much rather stimulate myself with the work I do. So it’s hard to force myself to be quiet, to “be still and know” that I need to spend time with God. I force myself to do it because through my own spiritual growth and seven years of seminary I have learned what happens when I don’t. I have learned that I lose my focus, that I find myself “going through the motions”, I am less grateful for what the Lord gives me day by day. I’ve learned that my day isn’t all it can be and I am nowhere near my best and yet I still get consumed in my work. And I lose sight of the most important things; the people in my life, the Lord and all He continues to do, the movement of the Holy Spirit in the actions of the day. And I know that I am not alone.
I led a Catholic Women’s League retreat several years ago where I incorporated this Gospel passage, and there weren’t many women in the room who couldn’t relate. In fact I’m sure there are very few men who can’t relate to this either. And what makes it even harder for us all is that hard-work and busy people are considered the “winners” in this world we live in. And in some ways this isn’t a bad thing. Hard work is a good thing and laziness is a sin, but if we look at laziness as the opposite of busyness, then we are missing the point of this Gospel. Martha’s problem isn’t her busyness, it’s in her attitude. She’s mad at Mary for not helping her, rather than being happy that in her work she is an instrument to give Mary the opportunity to encounter their friend Jesus. If Martha kept in mind that her turn would come; that there was a time for “doing” and for “being” and that she was doing something now, and would be with her Lord later – she might not have been so quick to be harsh with her sister. It’s not work that gets in the way today, it’s too much work. And this can be often our challenge and what Martha’s folley teach us. Balance and perspective are important to Christians. We are meant to be busy building up the Church, but we are also meant to do that for something…for the Lord and so that we might be with Him. My friends, let us consider today what we do and why we do it. And let us ask St. Martha who surely learned her lesson to pray and intercede for us. May God bless you.