Jesus visits the house of Martha and Mary, who, as we know from John’s Gospel, are dear friends. The two women make Jesus welcome, but Martha is so busy with serving the food that she becomes anxious and fretful, even falling out with her sister. Jesus gently reminds Martha that hospitality is not only about practical care for a guest. At that moment, what he needs is the loving welcome and attentive listening that Mary provides.
In the Church, we are called to practical service of our neighbour. There are many Marthas, who work tirelessly to meet the needs of others. But service begins with listening and reflection, in order to discern what our neighbour actually needs and wants, and what God is asking of us. To be true disciples of Christ, we need both Martha’s practical care for our neighbour and Mary’s spirit of listening and contemplation.