The gospels tell us several times that Martha and her sister Mary, along with their brother Lazarus, were good friends of Jesus.On one occasion, Jesus was visiting them and Martha was busy with the details of hospitality, while Mary sat at the feet of the Lord and listened to him speak. When Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping with the work, Jesus responded by defending Mary, who (in his words) had “chosen the better part.”
Jesus did not tell Martha to stop working, but he did say something about the degree of priority work should have in comparison to prayer (which is how we sit at the Lord’s feet). Their relative priority is implied in a statement of St. John Paul II: “A constant danger for apostolic workers is to become so much involved in their work for the Lord, as to forget the Lord of all work.” In prayer, we are mindful of the Lord of all work. We receive from him the strength and enlightenment we need in order for our work to be fruitful.
Whether we tend to be more like Martha or more like Mary, we are called to look at the proper relationship between these two tendencies in our lives. Let’s continue to work for the Lord, while never forgetting the Lord of all work.