Distracted activity can rob us of what is most important in life. Take Martha for example. You would want Martha on your team. Quick to roll up her sleeves, never shy of going the extra mile, Martha got things done. When Jesus came to Martha’s town, Martha was likely the first person to invite Jesus to visit her home.
As Martha was scrambling to prepare the meal, Martha’s sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Jesus’ words. We might excuse Martha for being indignant with her and asking Jesus to tell her sister to help her. After all, shouldn’t her sister have been helping her with all the chores?
Jesus’ response must have surprised Martha as much as it surprises us. Jesus commended Mary instead of correcting her. He said, “Only one thing is needed; Mary has chosen what is better…” How could it be?
The story of Martha and Mary does not pit contemplative religion against active religion. The story is about balance. Martha was doing good things. However, at that moment, there was something better she should have been doing.
Jesus had come to her house, the same Jesus whom prophets and kings wanted to see but did not (Luke 10:24). Was there anything better for her to do that simply stop and listen to Jesus? The Maker of Heaven and Earth was in her home, but, distracted with less important things, she was missing what he had to tell her.
Do we not do the same thing? We spring into action, thinking that we already know what is best. We fill our days with mindless, undirected activity. Jesus sees us running around like chickens without heads and says, “Martha, Martha, you are so distracted by so many things, why don’t you just sit next to me for a while? Let’s talk.”
We may not be able to invite the flesh and blood Jesus into our homes like Martha did. Yet, we have in our possession something just as good. God preserved his words for us, through the work of the Holy Spirit, in the Bible. When we open that book, place ourselves under God’s teachings, he meets with us through the mediating presence of the Holy Spirit.
We can be so distracted by good intention and seemingly good acts that we can miss the point. Will you take some time right now to sit at the feet of Jesus?