When we moved into our new home in June, the first new thing I wanted to buy was a dining room table large enough to seat a lot of people.
Scouring Facebook marketplace, eagle-eyed for deals, we eventually found a lovely, nearly eight-foot table, with eight chairs, in the exact style we wanted. As soon as we got it inside the house, all set up, a vase of fresh flowers set in the center, I told my husband, “Now . . . now we can have guests over.” He laughed and replied, “We could’ve had them over before, you know.” I snapped back, “No. Before it wasn’t perfect. But now it is.”
I was so concerned with making sure everything was perfect and in the right place before welcoming guests over to our new home. From the pillows on the couch to dust on the shelves and dishes in the sink, and wanting that table worthy of my dream home, I wanted everyone who came inside to immediately think that this home of ours was always pristine, clean, and orderly. I was worried about many things, most of all, the outward appearances of our house.
I assumed our guests wouldn’t enjoy themselves if it wasn’t perfect.
Martha makes that same assumption with Jesus, a guest in her home. She rushes around, burdened with serving, and then even asks Jesus to acknowledge all she’s done (which is all good work) and insist her sister help too and stop spending time with Him. But Jesus reminds her, and us, that the best thing—the better part—is to first be with those you’ve welcomed into your home: to celebrate their presence, rejoice in their company, sit with them, share that meal, and be grateful for the time together.
Ultimately, Jesus wants that time with us too. He doesn’t want us to worry if the corners of our hearts are spotless and clean before we draw close to Him. In fact we cannot become clean unless we draw close to Him, especially in the Sacrament of Penance. He is just waiting for us to rest in Him and ask for His help. Jesus invites us, every day, to choose the better part. That better part is always to be with Him first, worries and burdens set aside, focused on Him—and that will not be taken from us.
The litany of humility is a great prayer to help order our hearts toward focusing on Him.
Katie Prejean McGrady is an international Catholic speaker and author of three books with Ave Maria Press. After working as a theology teacher and parish youth minister for six years, Katie now travels full time across the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., speaking about faith, culture, family, evangelization, discipleship, and the best way to order a flat white (extra shot, medium temp). She and her husband Tommy have a podcast (The Electric Waffle), a dog (Barney), and a 1 year old (Rose) and live in Lake Charles, Louisiana. She is a contributing author to our Advent devotional book, All the Generations. Find out more about her here.