By Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.
Is it better to be a Martha or a Mary? Is it better to be the one who serves Jesus and the rest of the guests, or is it better to be the one who sits and listens at the feet of Jesus? Is it better to be the one who serves or the one who listens? My initial response is to ask, are not both important?
In our scriptures today, Jesus tells Martha, “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42). From this we can get the impression that it is better to listen than it is serve. And this can frustrate the ones who serve, the ones who do. Those who serve or do might object and explain that what they do is important. After all, if no one cooks the food, nobody eats. Serving and doing are important, and if given the choice between serving/doing versus listening, I would probably choose to serve/do. But sometimes amid serving and doing we can forget why we are doing what we are doing. Sometimes we need to take the time to listen, to remind ourselves why we serve.
Several years ago, I went on mission trip to Appalachia. Some of the people on the trip were carpenters, electricians, or had other specialty skills. We arrived late on Sunday afternoon and that evening were given a list of the various jobs that needed to be completed. We divided our group to complete the tasks. At 5:30 a.m. on Monday, one my fellow missionaries woke everybody up and told us it was time to get to work. But before we could go to work, we went to Mass, ate breakfast, and then our guides, before sending us out, had an orientation for us about the culture of the area and we went over other details. The information was important, but it also delayed getting to our worksites. You could sense the frustration of some of my fellow missionaries, who were thinking, “Why can we not just get out and do the work we came to do?” Yet our guides were trying to communicate that we were doing more than just replacing windows and floors. We there to change lives, not only the lives of those we helped but our own lives as well. Our guides were trying to get us listen, so that we could see Christ in the work that we were about to do.
In our scriptures today, we encounter Abraham showing hospitality to three strangers who seemed to be just passing through. This was more than just showing hospitality to strangers; it was culturally appropriate to show this kind of hospitality to a passing guest. But unbeknownst to the host, some of these guests could have been God’s messengers, as Abraham learned. We are called to show welcome and concern for each other, we are called to serve each other. Yes, our faith teaches us to do this. But more importantly, we are serving and welcoming the hidden presence of our God in our midst. May the Lord give us the eyes to see this hidden presence of our God in our midst so that we can serve our God.
To view the full scripture reading, click here.
Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S., earlier this month became the pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Glandorf, Ohio.