Reflection for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 17, 2022

By Cindy Wenninghoff, Notre Dame Associate

In our gospel reading for Sunday, we have Martha busy preparing a meal and making her visitors comfortable, not unlike Abraham and Sarah in our first reading who reach out to three strangers– and not unlike the Good Samaritan in last Sunday’s reading who takes care of an injured traveler.  She was being of service and thinking of others.  But then she sees Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, and perhaps with a bit of envy, brings it up to Jesus that Mary isn’t helping.   I imagine she too wanted to be seated at the foot of Jesus listening to His words.  But rather than correct Mary, Jesus points out to her that “there is need of only one thing, and Mary has chosen the better part”.

It’s often that I’ve compared myself to Martha more than Mary, more inclined to spend my time actively doing something instead of quietly spending time with Jesus in prayer.  At first, I viewed Jesus’ words as an admonishment to Martha, but I don’t think that’s true.  I think it was more to comfort her – to tell her not to be anxious, and to remember there is only need of one thing, and that is God.  He wasn’t telling Martha not to be of service to others, but to know that placing God first, allowing Him into our hearts, will provide peace and joy and take away the anxiety and worry.  He reminds us that the most important part is sharing ourselves with others, not the physical things around us.

It’s good to be like Martha and to be like Mary who provided a perfect example of last week’s Gospel.  “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”