By Michael Pirri
This past Friday was the Feast of St. Macrina (sister to St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa); this monday is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, and then Friday we celebrate the Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim (Jesus’ grandparents).
How wonderful that the Church celebrates these women in such close proximity to one another, and that this weekend, our Gospel story speaks about Mary and Martha.
The interaction between Martha and Mary is familiar to us – especially those of us who grew up with siblings. I’m sure it isn’t too difficult for you to remember at least one occasion when housework didn’t seem equally split growing up, or when you would bicker with a sibling about them not pulling their own weight. This is the case with Martha and Mary, two sisters whom Jesus visits.
In some ways, Jesus’ response is puzzling. How can he not see this injustice? Martha is busy preparing everything and trying to have everything ready, and Mary is just sitting there. Christ certainly recognizes Martha’s distress, but rather than address the uneven distribution of work, he addressed her preoccupation with what Mary was doing. It would appear that Martha, in doing all of her lamentable tasks, sought the opportunity to complain to her guest about what her sister, Mary, was doing (or rather not doing).
It’s not very difficult to see this interaction is replicated today. In a time when all of our schedules are jammed, working in the relentless pursuit of productivity, we can’t help but compare ourselves to those around us – and go out of our way to complain about it. We feel pulled in different directions, always seeking out what we don’t have; for many, the grass will always be greener on the other side of the fence. Our challenge is to be a ‘little less Martha’ and a ‘little more Mary’. I’m sure this is a familiar feeling for some: spending the entire evening preparing for a guest to arrive, then being stuck in the kitchen cooking until dinner is ready, and then even when you get a chance to sit down and enjoy dinner with your guest, you’re still worried about how many minutes are left on dessert in the oven.
When we multi-task, perhaps our split attention can lead to being unintentionally neglectful. What Christ asks of us is to take some time to focus solely on the task at hand, and let go of our surroundings.
July 21 Readings:
July 28 Readings: