“There is need of only one thing.”
Today’s Gospel passage is one of the more famous stories about Jesus’ life. It’s such a very simple story, but it’s one of the most important lessons in the whole Bible about being a Christian: about following Jesus.
If you could go back in time to visit Martha and Mary in their home, and ask both of them about showing hospitality to Jesus, surely Martha would say that she was being hospitable, while Mary would say that she was being hospitable. Martha was tending to all the details of hospitality—the cleaning, the cooking, and so on—while Mary was tending to Jesus Himself. What does Jesus think about these two different ways of showing hospitality? Jesus says, “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.”
Of course, this Mary in today’s Gospel passage—Martha’s sister—is not Jesus’ mother. There are a lot of women in the Gospel named Mary. But this Mary in today’s Gospel passage seems a lot like Jesus’ mother, because she has chosen the better part: her life is focused on Jesus. Mary stops everything that she is doing, and sits at Jesus’ feet, to listen to what He has to say to her, as each of us should do each day.