I scramble to make sure all of the toys are picked up, the food prepared and the last person to use the bathroom didn’t leave a mess. We have company coming over and I easily go into a panic-frenzy mode counting down the time before our guests arrive, as I see a pile of dishes in the sink that still need to be washed.
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus. It seems Martha always gets the bad rap. She was the one who was anxious about serving, the one worried and frazzled trying to do it all and frustrated that she didn’t have help from Mary. She was the sister who was too busy to just sit and listen to Jesus.
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.” Luke 10:41-42
It is easy to fall into the Martha mindset. We want the food to taste great and the house to sparkle. We want our guests to enjoy themselves and hopefully rave about the dinner, perhaps even give a compliment or two. Our minds may be preoccupied with the tasks to do, juggling the plates, and anxious about how everything will turn out. Leading us to lose focus on the person we are serving.
We live in a culture that echoes a mantra of doing, busyness, and having it all together. We worry, panic, and stress over meeting societal expectations. Filling our schedules with activity after activity, wishing our house was Instagram worthy or our meals looked like the pictures on Pinterest. The quiet peace in being present is easily washed over by noise.
We forget to be Mary. To sit “beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.” (Luke 10:39) Listening in prayer, reading Scripture, sitting in Adoration, or meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary. In a conversation with a stranger, in listening to a friend, or in being attentive to our children’s stories. To be present to Christ in each person we encounter, whether we are serving them chocolate cake or passing them by in the grocery aisle.
The main dish was burnt and the dessert was literally a flop. The kids laughed and the parents enjoyed good conversation. When everyone left I sank down on the couch, smiled, and thought next time I am not going to worry as much.
Five Ways to Have a Mary Heart While Being Martha:
- Start your day with prayer and quiet, even if it is just 10 minutes.
- Offer your cleaning and preparation as a sacrifice for your guests’ intentions.
- Say a prayer for your guests as you prepare the food.
- Serve your guests joyfully and cheerfully with a smile, no matter how much time or energy it took you to prepare.
- Allow yourself to be present to your guests and engage in conversation with them. Save the cleaning up until after your guests have left.