Today is the feast day of one of my favorite saints -- Saint Martha. Saint Martha was the sister of Lazarus and Mary. When our Lord visited them in Bethany, Martha received Him as her guest and served Him with devoted attention. I am often reminded in my own life of our Lord's words to her, "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).
Our Lord spoke these words to Martha when she approached him, "burdened with much serving," to complain that her sister was not helping her. I, too, sometimes feel "burdened with much serving." I, too, complain about it. I, too, am often "anxious and worried about many things." I don't know of many mothers who do not sometimes feel this way. It is then that we should try to remember to "choose the better part."
And what is the better part? The story of Mary and Martha highlights the balance most of us must seek in the spiritual life: the balance between prayer and work, ora et labora. Mary had been sitting at our Lord's feet listening to Him speak. But most of us cannot spend our whole day in contemplation; most of us, especially mothers, are required to lead a very action-filled life. But let us, too, sit at the feet of our Lord. Let us approach Him in prayer and in the sacraments and let Him renew our energies for serving our families. Let us make our work our prayer: Each dish we wash, each diaper we change, let it be for love of our Lord. For it is not Martha's serving that was the problem, but her feeling "burdened" by it, her complaining and anxiety. May we be ever mindful of our Lord's presence while we work. May we turn to Him often in thanksgiving and in need. May the Lord bless the work of our hands. And may we ever grow closer to Him.
Father, your Son honored Saint Martha by coming to her home as a guest. By her prayers may we serve Christ in our brothers and sisters and be welcomed by you into heaven, our true home. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours for July 29