Over the centuries, Christians have pitted Martha and Mary against each other. For example, we call someone a Martha or a Mary, but never both. The Lord, however, calls each of us to be both a Martha and a Mary. The faith of Mary is dead without the works of Martha (see Jas 2:26), while the works of Martha are aimless without the prayer of Mary. In fact, Mary is working by listening to Jesus, for listening is very hard work. Busy Martha is praying, for good deeds and generosity are sacrifices pleasing to the Lord (Heb 13:16). Thus, the distinction between Martha and Mary is not so distinct.
First, each of us must strive to be like Mary. If we set aside time each day to listen to the Lord in prayer, the Bible, and silence, we will begin to develop a lifestyle of listening. As we listen attentively to the Lord, we will likely hear Him calling us into action. Then, having attained "full knowledge of His will," we "will multiply good works of every sort" (Col 1:9-10).
A Mary tends to develop into an activist like Martha, and only a Mary makes a good Martha. As Mother Teresa said, we are called to be "active contemplatives."
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from October 1, 2010 through November 30, 2010.
†Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 6, 2010.