Gospel Reflections (Luke 10:38-42)

Martha and Mary have become classic figures in the Church representing two different styles of life, the active and the contemplative vocation, an active apostolate or a life of prayer. Carried to an extreme, this opposition is, of course, merely silly. No active apostolate can thrive unless it grows out of a life of prayer, for we cannot draw others to the knowledge and love of a God whom we do not ourselves know and love. Nor can a life of prayer be genuine unless it leads to care for others and concern for the salvation of all those whom the Lord loves. Even a strictly enclosed community cannot claim to be a part of Christ’s body unless its fabric is one of love and concern for all the members, and especially those in need, the elderly, the sick and the young. In fact, Jesus does not present any such choice between two different religious ways of life. His speech is always in terms of absolutes. He does not use comparatives; he says that Mary has chosen not ‘the better’ (as our translation has it) but ‘the good’ part (as the Greek has it). Any ‘good’ life must be founded on listening devotedly to the Lord and responding to what we have heard. How important a part does listening to the Lord play in my life as a Christian?

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