Growing up in the Denk family, there were six of us kids, and our kitchen was in one corner of the house. Then there was a small doorway, the door would close, and then you had the dining room where everybody would eat together.
I find it interesting today that the style of designs of homes today is open flooring and open modeling. If you think of most homes being built today, the kitchen is not off somewhere separate, and it’s an open kitchen. So, you’re cooking, people are in the dining room, and you’re together the whole time as you’re preparing the meal and celebrating.
I wonder if that was the problem with Martha and Mary. I wonder if there was a closed kitchen where Martha was working, and she couldn’t even see or hear what Mary and Jesus were experiencing. So, Martha begins to get a little bit upset because she’s serving, to cook, and doing everything for Jesus. She’s probably breaking a sweat and trying to make the best meal she can, I would imagine, for God, and she sees Mary doing nothing. She’s sitting at the feet of Jesus, and of course, Martha gets upset about this, and she comes in so much so that she says to Jesus, “Hey Lord, can’t you talk to my sister? Talk some sense into her. I’m over here cleaning, and she’s not doing anything.” The Lord says to her this phrase, Martha, Martha; you are anxious and worried about many things. Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
Do we have any Martha’s out there right now? Anyone who can relate to Martha’s? Any Mary’s? Is anyone more like Mary?
Jesus tells us that the better thing is to sit at His feet. I want you to try to let go of all that dynamic just for a moment and think about what you’re doing right now. You’re sitting at His feet by coming to Mass this Sunday; you’ve chosen the better parts. First, I want to let you know and affirm you. I think sometimes you don’t get to hear this enough; God is pleased with you because you chose to come and sit at His feet with Him today. There are many other things that you could be doing. You could be anxious and worried about many other things, but right now, you are sitting at His feet.
I think about that open floor plan idea. What if our souls were supposed to be in an open floor setting? What if work didn’t have to be over here for us, and loving Jesus was here and doing errands, and things were over here? What if it was all open, and we could be with Jesus constantly and communicate with Him constantly?
I sometimes think what’s not said in scripture tells you a lot, too, or tells me a lot about what may be in the scripture passage. What I find interesting is I didn’t hear Martha saying to Jesus, “Hey Jesus, what would you like for dinner? Hey Jesus, do you want dinner right now? Are you hungry?” I don’t think she ever asked Him. She just went into the kitchen and started working and doing her thing and getting all fretty about it and upset about it.
I think that to us a lot in life, too, where we do things thinking God wants us to do it, but we’ve never really spent the time to ask Him, “Lord, what do you want me to do today? Do you want me to clean the kitchen? Do you want me to clean the car? Do you want me to run errands? What do you want me to do with today?
Martha got anxious and worried and might not even have known that until the Lord revealed it to her. I think she got nervous and concerned because she was separate. She was separate from Jesus, and Mary was right at the feet of Him.
Maybe one thing for us to focus on is in our active lives and doing and doing all the things that are necessary to do that we need to do. Do we ask Jesus if that’s what He wants us to do right now? Is that the thing that He wants us to be involved with? If we get anxious and worried about what we are doing, it’s an obvious indicator that there’s been a disconnect. We’ve disconnected ourselves from Jesus, and we’re just doing the work on our own and maybe not following His promptings or what He desires from us.
Anxiety and worry can be a good indication to us that maybe there’s a disconnect. When that happens, I will invite you to go back to that image of the open floor plan and the open kitchen where everything that we do, we’re able to dialogue with Him. We can ask Him, “Lord is this what you want me doing?” If He says, “Yes,” any anxiety, doubt, or worry very quickly dissipates. But when we’re not asking Him, not in full communion with Him, that anxiety and that worry can come so much.
He tells us something very significant: Mary chose the better part, and it will not be taken from her. That’s a pretty strong phrase that Jesus says that Mary took the better part, which will not be taken from her.
I would invite you to ponder this, coming together and celebrating the Eucharist; this is the better part. I know many of your other friends or family may not come here to celebrate the Eucharist, but you’re here. You’re sitting at the feet of Jesus. You’re celebrating the better parts.
You can also do this at home whenever you pray. Take some time to pray either in the morning or in the evening or at night or all three and sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him. Ask Him for what He wants you to do in your life.
In religious life, religious contemplatives are seen as having a higher calling than active diocesan priests like I am. The religious, the consecrated ones, are seen as having a higher calling where they spend time praying with God, which can seem foreign to us. Shouldn’t these nuns do something for work? But they are called to be with God.
This is the cool part. Jesus is also revealing something to us about heaven. Mary has chosen the better part to be with Jesus, never to leave His side, to be in this constant communion with Him, and that will not be taken from her. What that means is eternal life. If we have this union with Jesus in our life today, this will not be taken from us.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus is an image of heaven. One day we won’t have anything else to do but just be with Him and enjoy Him.
So, if you find yourself being a Martha and getting anxious and worried about many things, think about opening that floor plan of your hearts, letting Him into all the areas of your life so that you can always be in a relationship with Him and dialogue with Him. If you find yourself anxious and worried, sit at His feet. Come to daily Mass. Go to the Blessed Sacrament chapel. Find some way to go and be back in His presence so that when you do your work, it’s truly the work that He wants you to do and not simply the work that we want to do to try to impress Him.
That makes sense to do the work He wants us to do and not the result we want to do to try to impress Him.
Let your heart be renovated today. Have an open heart and an open floor plan.