When Jesus was in the area of Bethany, He spent considerable time with His friend Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. What must it have been like to be in a home where Our Lord was such a welcomed Guest. The scene probably typical of one of Jesus' visits is recounted in Luke's Gospel (10:38~42). Mary is at the feet of Jesus and Martha is busy about the details of tidying up and preparing a meal for their dear friend.
In this scene from Luke, we hear Jesus rebuke Martha for being troubled about many things. I don't think He was upset that Martha was doing these things but that she seemed to lose her peace~ the peace that only comes from remaining at His feet, whether literally as Mary had or spiritually while going about her chores. Martha only saw the work and lost the "better part". I once heard Fr. Robert Barron comment that even if Martha had been at Jesus' feet, she still would have been troubled. Martha's heart and soul were distracted and she lost sight of Jesus, the better part.
In reflecting on all of this, I see myself in Martha more times than I care to count. I have many Martha Moments, those moments when I lose sight of Jesus and get caught up in the drudgery of the work. I lose my peace~ His peace. It is in these moments that I hear myself complaining, either aloud or interiorly, about all I have to do, or why am I the one who always gets stuck with this or that~ you get the picture. I have also found myself being rebuked by Jesus when I catch myself in the midst of one of these pity parties.
Jesus rebuked Martha because He loved her; He wanted her never to lose sight of Him whether He was there in the house at Bethany or not. Jesus also knew that despite Martha's distraction and complaining, she also loved Him. On the occasion of Lazarus' death, Martha makes one of the greatest acts of faith recorded in Scripture. She responds to Jesus' declaration that He is the Resurrection and the life by telling Him that she knows that He is the Messiah. Only her love for Him could allow her to do this.
Jesus rebukes me during my Martha moments because He loves me as well, and wants me never to lose sight of Him no matter where I am or what I am doing. I also know that even in my moaning and groaning about things, Jesus knows, by my faith, that I also love Him.
St Martha helps me to see that I can have the better part no matter what I am doing or how crazy things might get. If I keep my heart and soul focused on Jesus, I will not lose my peace or fall into one of those pity parties I often find myself attending.
I like to believe that day at the house in Bethany was a turning point for Martha. She had much to learn and I somehow think she learned a great deal that day. I too have much to learn and I can learn a great deal from St Martha. She must have learned her lesson in choosing the better part~after all, she is a saint and we celebrate her feast today.
I too am troubled and distracted by many things. Pray for me that I may remember that in all I do I am serving Jesus. Help me to see past the drudgery of the ordinary things that sometimes enter into my daily life, and see and hear Jesus in my heart and soul. Pray that I will learn as you did to choose Jesus, the better part for He makes the ordinary extraordinary. May Our Lord grant these graces through your intercession.