“Martha, dear Martha, you're fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing is essential, and Mary has chosen it. I wont take it away from her!” These are the words of Jesus in today's Gospel. With these words Jesus is reaching out to the Martha that lives in each of us. He knows that Martha's complaint about not getting kitchen help from her sister is justified. But he also recognizes that Martha's real problem is the way she's living her life, keeping herself so busy that she's missing out on the best things. She's working hard and dutifully, but she's constantly feeling stressed out. Her work is getting done, but there's no joy in it!
Why? Because she's missing out on what's happening right here and now! Jesus is in the house, sharing some thoughts and wisdom with her sister Mary while she's in the kitchen steaming. We too often cut ourselves off from the importance of the present moment. Either we look back guiltily over the “might have beens” or “should have beens” of the past or we worry constantly about the scarey “what-ifs” of the future. In doing so, we don't focus on the peaceful enjoyment of the present moment – which is really the only moment that matters.
Just like Martha, we miss the precious present because we're focused on the unchangeable past or the unpredictable future. Out minds are too busy with guilt over the past or anxiety over the future to appreciate the now moment of our lives. As someone once said, “Life is what happens to us while we are planning our lives.” Or “I always resented interruptions to my work until I realized these interruptions were my real work!”
How do we rid ourselves of the Martha that lingers in each of us? We do what Jesus does. First we decide what is worth doing, and what is not worth doing. We assume some things in our lives are simply not worth much time and effort, while others are. Next we listen to the rhythms of life and get wise about timing things. Remember the Hebrew Testament words? “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. A time to be born, a time to die. A time to plant and a time to uproot. A time to be silent and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3). Yes, there is a time for everything of importance; we need to discover the right time.
Finally, after knowing what really matters and discovering the right time for it, we come to the bottom line: we give our entire attention to the task at hand. We are peacefully, calmly, wholeheartedly in that moment as though it were our final moment of life. That's what Jesus did.,
When Jesus was with someone, it was as though no one else existed. No wonder those who accepted his friendship were so profoundly changed by it. He gave them the gift of being fully present to them! It's the very gift we can give each other.