The One Thing

Most of my life has been rush, rush, rush. When I was in high school there was so much to do –school, activities, chores. I would go straight from one thing to another, feeling harried most of the time. College life was very similar – class, work, activities. And even after college when I entered the work force I felt like I had to scurry about to keep up. Being busy seemed to be the badge of the successful. So when I began a new chapter of my life as a stay-at- home Mom, I fell right back into that pattern at home. Between the cooking, cleaning, and other housework, there didn’t seem to be much time to squeeze anything else in the day. I spent a lot of time comparing myself to others and feeling like I didn’t quite measure up. Then, finally, something changed.

I paused and took a look around me. I realized this was not how I wanted to live my life. This was not the kind of wife and mother I wanted to be. I had been rushing about for so long, busy doing all sorts of things, that I didn’t really realize who I was underneath it all. And in our culture, it is such an easy trap to fall into. Efficiency and productivity are top priorities, even at the expense of the good of ourselves and others. We place “doing” ahead of “being”. And I had finally had enough of focusing on what I thought was urgent and not on what was truly important.

In Luke 10:38-42 we find the passage about Mary and Martha. “As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” This story never made much sense to me. After all, I thought, if everyone just sat around chatting, who would cook the food? Or wash the dishes? How would anything get done? For years I had missed the point - of the story and of life. What is it about Martha that Jesus finds fault with? She is ‘anxious and upset about many things’. Jesus is drawing attention to the frantic, un-focused quality of her life. And what is it about Mary that Jesus praises? It is that she has chosen ‘the one necessary thing’. Mary is not so much avoiding work, as she is sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus, gathering herself and learning what she is essentially about. She hears the words of the teacher.

Do you think Mary never cooked another meal or washed another dish? I highly doubt it.

She had discovered the one thing, and I am sure it wasn’t just her heart that was changed, but her life transformed as well. There are so many voices calling out to us. So many influences trying to pull us this way and that. So many things trying to demand our attention. But what is the one necessary thing? It is to listen to the voice of Jesus as he tells you of his love and as he tells you who you are. I am finally able to hear that voice, and to listen to it. I know who I am, and what is most important. I am now a disciple of Christ, just as Mary was. And I want to thank Bishop Robert Barron and his writings for helping me to recognize Jesus’ voice. Sure, there is still housework to be done, but what a world of difference when you know what matters most.