The Better Part

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Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus


Luke 10:38-42

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.”


Opening Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to prioritize quiet time with you. Settle my mind and free me from the distractions of life long enough for me to sit at your feet, seek your wisdom, and offer you the worries and cares that are on my mind.


Encountering Christ: 


  1. Burdened and Busy: Poor Martha! Jesus, her dear friend, had become increasingly popular. We can only imagine that as he entered the village many people accompanied him. As she welcomed him and his followers into her home, she immediately began to worry about practical matters. What food was available to prepare? Where were the serving dishes? Martha was anxious to be a good hostess for her beloved friend and his guests. Her desire to serve was beautiful and to be praised. However, Our Lord did not want her to be anxious. Nor does he want us to live out our days in a state of anxiety and stress.
  2. Anxious and Worried: “Mary has chosen the better part.” Jesus did not mean to humiliate Martha by his words or make her feel shame. He looked with love at this beautiful woman, so harried, anxious, and stressed, and just wanted her to have peace.The word “peace” is mentioned in the Bible 329 times. “Come to me,” he implores us, “ you who are weary and find life burdensome and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Even our secular society has come to realize the great need for personal peace and suggest all kinds of remedies for anxiety. But Our Lord invites us first to lay the big and small worries, concerns, and to-do lists at his feet. “Who except God can give you peace? Has the world ever been able to satisfy the heart?” (St. Gerard Majella).
  3. Nerve-Wracking: Why was Martha so nervous that evening? Was it her perfectionism? Was she overwhelmed and wanted control of the situation? Did she want to make a good impression on the guests? She would have had an easier time discerning what to do next had she kept calm and received the peace of Christ, who was in her presence. In the midst of our busy days, we can forget, like Martha, that Christ is present to us. He is always loving us, ready to listen, and wants to shower us with peace. A nightly examen can help us to identify what triggers anxiety in us and train us to turn to God with our problems.


Conversing with Christ: Jesus, help me to learn to turn to you with every concern I have. You are the source of all peace. You can quiet my mind and help me discern the best ways to solve any problem I bring to you. Jesus, I trust in you.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will plan to offer a simple gesture of hospitality, either to my family or by bringing a meal or treat to someone who is lonely. 


For Further Reflection: Blessed not Stressed: Dealing with Anxiety, Ascension blogpost by Allison DeBoer. 


Cathy Stamper is a wife, mother of five young adults, and business owner. She reads and writes from her home in Maryland, where she lives with her husband, her beloved dog, and an assortment of finicky cats.

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