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Memorial of Saint Martha

Scripture Readings

Reading the story of Martha and Mary, it's easy to feel a bit conflicted. Most of us can easily identify with Martha, busy and overwhelmed with 'many things'. It's her anxiety and urgency that strikes a chord. Jesus tells Martha (and us) to take a step back. Jesus reminds us 'there is need of only one thing'.

In a sermon on this Gospel passage, St. Augustine describes Martha as the image of things presently (our work in the world now) and Mary as the image of what we hope for (resting in the Lord for eternity). Augustine says, "the labor of manifoldness passes away, but the love of unity abides". The work of the world is required of us now and will eventually be taken away when we enter eternal life. What Mary is doing 'will not be taken from her'…it is what God intends for us in eternity. It's being 'anxious and worried about many things' that concerns Jesus when he speaks to Martha. How many of us become anxious and worried when we do not make time to pray—when we do not engage in the 'one thing' that is eternal?

 In the world 'the labor of manifoldness' is always upon us while prayer and rest in the Lord is something we must actively seek. This day, may we reflect on one last thing Augustine says in this regard: "Let us do the first well, that we may have the second fully". And may the Lord grant us the grace to live, today, knowing 'there is need of only one thing'.

Gail Lyman