Dear Friend of Carmel Mission,
Today’s Gospel story of Martha and Mary is a familiar one, and one which seems to draw an obvious conclusion, that it is better to be a Mary than a Martha. However, I think that the true lesson is more nuanced than this. Highlighted in this story is the need to balance action and contemplation. A call to action is engrained in our Catholic culture – particularly in the realm of social justice and care for the poor and vulnerable. Likewise, prayerful contemplation is a bedrock of our faith. We fail to get the balance right when we see these components of our lives of faith as diametrically opposed rather than in support of one another.
Both Martha and Mary are engaged in serving Jesus. Martha is attending to His needs as a good host, and Mary is listening to and learning from Him. His critique of Martha is not for her actions themselves, but that her actions are distracting her from listening and learning. Frankly, she is stressing out! That is not what Jesus wants for her, or for any of us. As is often the case, Jesus’ correction is more about His care for those He loves than out of frustration or a penchant to chastise. Jesus wants Martha to be able to relax and be in the moment. He also understands that He, and, lest we forget, all the people on the journey with Him, have arrived at her house and she feels pressure to welcome and host them. Jesus wants to take that pressure off her so she too can enjoy His company and have the benefit of His teaching.
Action without contemplation can leave us stressed, overwhelmed, unfocused, and less effective in our work of bringing about the Kingdom of God. Contemplation without action can leave us disconnected from an important part of our call as disciples, service to and with God’s people. A perfect balance of action and contemplation is hard to achieve and likely different for each individual. The story of Martha and Mary encourages us to examine this balance in our lives and support our brothers and sisters as they do the same.
I wish you and your loved ones blessings of good health, great peace, and new balance. Please continue to pray for peace,
Please take a moment to read our Carmel Mission Weekly Bulletin.