Reflection on 16th Sunday: 17th July 2022

Only One Thing is Necessary

‘Today’s gospel is not just about Mary and Martha but about us and the choices we make. Jesus is saying that choices matter. We are always making choices. Sometimes we choose unconsciously, sometimes quickly and easily; other times with great deliberation and struggle. Some choices are insignificant. They are forgotten the next day. Other choices have great meaning and significance and the consequences are long lasting. We are always discerning the one thing needed for this time, in this place and these circumstances. What is the better part, given our particular situation?’1

‘Jesus didn’t question Martha’s choice of hospitality. It was not her cooking, cleaning or serving that bothered him but that she was worried and distracted by many things. The root meaning of the word ‘worry’ is ‘strangle’ or ‘seize by the throat and tear.’ The root meaning of the word ‘distraction’ is ‘a separation or a dragging apart of something that should be whole.’ These are violent words: words that wound and fracture; states of mind that render us incoherent, divided, and un-whole. Jesus found Martha in just such a state of fragmentation — a condition in which she could not enjoy his company, savour his presence or find him present in her work in the kitchen.’2 ‘If we, too, find our inner life fragmented then perhaps we can hear Jesus’ words to Martha, and to us, not as a criticism, but as an invitation to choose to be present to Him, whether sitting at his feet or in the kitchen, or wherever we finds ourselves.’3

‘How do we be present, show up to the divine presence that is already and always before us? What is the one thing needed right now, in this moment? Not forever or what we think will fix all our problems and let us live happily ever after. Just for now. What is the one thing needed that will keep us awake, aware, open, receptive and present to Christ? Choose that. That is the better part but hold your choice lightly because there will be another choice to be made after that, and another after that one. We choose our way into life, love and relationships.1

‘For each choice we make, only one thing is necessary. It must be rooted in Jesus. It must begin at his feet.’2

Adapted: [1] Michael Marsh; [2]Debi Thomas; [3] Joel Osteen

Gospel Luke 10:38-42

Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha’, he said, ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.