October 8, 2019

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.” These words of Jesus to Martha followed her asking Jesus to reprimand her sister for letting her do all the work. Mary might well have been selfish, but that is not what Jesus addressed. Rather he spoke to Martha’s frustration and told her that she was forgetting whom she was trying to serve.

Martha’s concerns leave no room for the most important aspect of hospitality—gracious attention to the guest. In fact, she breaks all the rules of hospitality by trying to embarrass her sister in front of her guest, and by asking her guest to intervene in a family dispute. She even goes so far as to accuse Jesus of not caring about her.

Martha’s worry and distraction prevent her from being truly present to Jesus, and cause her to drive a wedge between her sister and herself, and between Jesus and herself. She has missed out on the “one thing needed” for true hospitality. There is no greater hospitality than focusing on one’s guest. How much more so when the guest is Jesus! So Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.

Jesus’ words to Martha should, perhaps, be seen as an invitation rather than a rebuke. Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. The one thing needed is for Martha to receive the gracious presence of Jesus, to listen to his words, to know that she is valued not for what she does or how well she does it, but for who she is as a child of God.

Can our Eucharists lead us to focus more intently on Christ?

Let Us Pray:

O Jesus, we know that you invite all of us who are worried and distracted by many things to sit and rest in your presence, and to hear your words of grace and truth. Help us to appreciate that we are loved and valued as children of God, to be renewed in faith and strengthened for service.


Daily Eucharistic Reflection – Center for Eucharistic Evangelizing (eucharisticevangelizing.com)


About Paul J. Bernier, SSS

Blessed Sacrament Father Paul J. Bernier served for many years as the editor of Emmanuel. He is a popular writer, preacher, and director of retreats. Among his many published works is Ministry in the Church: A Historical and Pastoral Approach, Second Edition, published by Orbis Books in 2015.