Real Hospitality- A Gospel reflection from Santa Rita Abbey

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.” (Lk 10:40-42)

They were friends – Jesus, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. The Gospel of Luke paints a picture of the familiarity and at-homeness that they shared (Lk 10:38 -42). Jesus decides to pay a visit to his friends and drops in. Martha jumps in to care for the needs of hospitality and Mary is absorbed in a conversation with Jesus and sits at his feet. Two very different aspects of hospitality and both necessary. But tension builds and Martha can no longer take it, so she tells Jesus to care about HER a little bit by demanding that Mary help her with the serving. I think we can all understand her frustration. But Jesus turns this into an opportunity to go deeper and learn a lesson about how to become prayer. How to be a person who lives from the center of their being.
Jesus wasn’t criticizing Martha’s attention to the service of hospitality. He was pointing out a very important point on how to live. Only one thing was necessary and that is to be grounded in the Presence of God in all things. When our actions flow from our center to touch the Presence of God in another or in a situation, our response is much deeper than the surface anxiety and worry that caused Martha to chide Jesus and her sister. Then both action and contemplation are one single movement of love – a seamless garment.
God made us to live from ‘the better part,’ from the deep place within where we are one with God, the silent, grounded, strong center of our being which will never be taken from us. When our response to life comes more and more from there, the love of God carries us. Contemplation and action are a single movement. Both are necessary and both are grounded in the Presence.