When I was a young boy, I couldn’t wait to grow up; when I was in high school, I couldn’t wait to graduate; when I started out in business, I couldn’t wait to run my own my own company; after a long time of running different companies, I couldn’t wait to be a simple servant again. I was never quite in the moment it seemed, just always thinking of what was next.
There is a fine line between contentment and overzealous ambition that pulls us away from what truly fills us with peace. Today’s Gospel points that out pretty plainly in the story of Martha and Mary. Before I gave up my life in business for a life in ministry, I worked as the Chief Operating Officer for three different companies over a thirteen-year span. Although financially there were some great years, I could never find a peace of mind that would satisfy me by being who God was calling me to be. Outside of work, I tried to fill the void with various forms of evangelization, but I was still putting God second. I hosted a talk radio show, spent time working with men’s fellowship groups and volunteered to lead youth-related events, but I never was willing to give up my “Golden Goose”. I was allowing The Lord to be in my midst, but I just wanted Him to stay where He was while I finished what I thought I needed to be doing. In the end, it was a joyless career that was not fulfilling me as a man, nor as a Child of God. I had to choose to surrender it all back to Him and hand Him my attention in everything that I was doing so that I could find peace. It was absolutely necessary for me to invite Him be part of everything (I mean everything) I did.
The story of Martha and Mary is no different. During a nice morning conversation on this scripture, my mother-in-law, Yvonne, reminded me exactly of why Jesus is so stern with Martha – simply, she has no peace in her heart. He is not telling her necessarily that she needs to be next to Mary at His feet; obviously there is work to be done when you are the host. Jesus is reminding her that if she has chosen to be “The Servant”, then she needs to do it with joy and peace while being present in her role. Martha needed to slow down and be who she was being called to be in that moment. By embracing the importance of her required tasks, she is choosing, and recognizing, where faith-filled contentment lives. It reminds me of a friend we have who said she would always pray in thanksgiving while doing chores she didn’t want to be doing. While preparing laundry, she was grateful her family was clothed; in doing dishes, she was thankful for the food they had; with her yard work, she knew they were blessed to have a home as a shelter. Mary stopped and sat at the physical feet of Jesus to absorb His message fully and completely because it is what she was able to do in that moment. Each of us is being called to bring the “spiritual” image of Christ into everything we are doing so, ultimately, it is His will which has a hand in all of our works. At a time in your own life where demands seem overwhelming and you run from activity to activity, you must do your tasks with grace. If you have chosen to be part of an activity or need to do something necessary for your future goals, find the blessing by inviting Jesus into it all. If you don’t, you could find yourself wishing you were somewhere else or even take a stance of jealousy toward others. Take time to see Christ in your friends, in your family and in the situations you find each day. If we can allow ourselves to be present, filled with peace, then we will find that we are truly at “His feet” every second of the day.