“As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha burdened with much serving, came to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.’ 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 10:38-42, NAB)
I think Martha would be described as a “Type A” personality. Always rushing around, doing everything, getting the guest quarters ready, making sure that the refreshments are prepared, and served. She was the original “Martha Stewart” of her times. And it drove her crazy to see her sister Mary just sitting there, with all that was needed to be done. Mary, however, was being present to the Lord, receiving wisdom and grace.
We are all involved with things that need to be done; be it housework, on the job or in the marketplace. We can get so involved in activities that we can crowd out the voice of the Lord. We need to balance our lives, and to make time in our daily lives for prayer and contemplation. We need that space and quiet, to let the Lord in and speak to us.
St. Francis of Assisi, in his Rule of life for his friars, encourage those who had a skill or trade, to keep practicing them. But he let them know what the priorities are, “The friars to whom God has given the grace of working should work in a spirit of faith and devotion and avoid idleness, which is the enemy of the soul, without however extinguishing the spirit of prayer and devotion, to which every temporal consideration must be subordinate.” (The Rule of 1223, St. Francis of Assisi) This is wisdom that all of us can recognize and apply to our own lives.