The Martha and Mary in You

Five priests sat in our living room talking to my husband and children while I finished dinner alone in the kitchen.

Instead of the normal anxious resentment I often feel when guests are waiting, a warm, happy feeling came over me. I was filled with gratitude that these holy priests were in my home and happy for my husband to sit and converse. I was able to serve them with joy and felt God’s presence with me in my work. This is what the Lord wanted for Martha!

A traditional way of reading today’s Gospel from Luke (see Luke 10:38-42) is to look at Martha and Mary as representative of two ways of living our Christian life. Martha in her service and hospitality to Our Lord represents the active life where we live out our love of God through good works and in forming virtuous habits. It is good for us to care for the necessities of life, especially the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.

Mary seated at the feet of Our Lord represents the contemplative life where we spend time with Him in prayer. Pope Saint Gregory the Great says that “the contemplative life is to cling with our whole mind to the love of God and our neighbor, and to desire nothing beside our Creator” (Hom. xiv in Ezech.as cited by Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae,II-II,Q. 180, Art. 1). God wants us to be in His presence because being close to Him is better than anything else.

Most of us cannot spend hours each day in quiet prayer, but we can start by taking just two or ten minutes each day for silent, intentional conversation with God. Our time at the Lord’s feet will overflow into the rest of our day, helping stay close to Him in all we do. When we unite our every act to Him in either silent or verbal prayer, we will find our anxiety and care lessened.

Jesus asked Martha to stop worrying and see her work as an act of love for Him. He asks the same of us.

God wants us to be in His presence because being close to Him is better than anything else. Click To Tweet

Schedule into your day these moments of silent, intentional conversation. Ask a friend to do it too so you can keep each other accountable and encourage one another in this growth of your relationship with God!

Susanna Spencer is the Theological Editor for Blessed is She who studied theology and philosophy in her earlier life. She happily cares for her three adorable little girls, toddler boy, and her dear husband in Saint Paul when not writing and editing. She loves beautiful liturgies, cooking delicious meals, baking amazing sweets, reading good books, raising her children, casually following baseball, and talking to her philosopher husband. She is a contributing author to our children’s devotional prayer book, Rise Up and Theological Editor of both the Catechism Studies and the Mystery Studies. You can find out more about her here.


  • Reply
    July 29, 2019 at 6:45 am

    I love these devotions…
    Praise be to God… May our deepened faith permeate to others so that we are all growing closer to Christ…

  • Reply
    Peggy Rowe-Linn
    July 29, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Well written as do often we forget that Hod wants both the Martha and Mary within us. Without Martha, nothing is accomplished for the Kingdom. Without becoming Mary, we forget that we are made not simply to serve God, but also to know and love him. Contemplation is essential to our growth in the Spirit!

  • Reply
    Andi Cousineau
    July 29, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Needed this reflection today- thank you!

  • Reply
    Amy Mrugalski
    July 29, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Thank you for this reminder that in serving my family I am serving God. So often it feels like the daily duties prevent me from having quiet time with the Lord, but I can choose to see the busyness as an opportunity to do what He wants me to do. I have to remind myself that I am fulfilling His call even when it’s not what I always imagined it would look like.

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