You are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Luke 10:41-42
We Americans can certainly be an anxious bunch. I know that I am guilty of this as much as anyone else. I always have a laundry list of items that I want to accomplish: clean my room, exercise more, practice my Latin, eat more fiber, etc. None of these things are bad in and of themselves. However, you and I both know that too much anxiety about these things can be a sin- an inability to trust in God’s providence, a willful attempt to control every aspect of our lives at the exclusion of God’s grace.
But today’s readings suggest that we can even be too anxious about our religious obligations if we go about them in the wrong way. St. Paul reminds us that before his conversion at Damascus he was painstaking in his attempt to fulfill his duties to the religious law, and yet had perhaps not made much progress in being a real example of God's love. In the Gospel, Martha is not doing something bad per se; she is simply trying to fulfill all the duties of hospitality, and thus missing the forest for the trees. The anxiety about these things are not necessarily bad, they're just not, in the words of Christ, the better part.
Sometimes, I think, we become so myopic in the smaller parts of the practice of our faith that we forget why we go about them in the first place. Just like I have a laundry list of mundane activities, I end up with a laundry list of virtues to work on: be more humble, go to mass more, say the rosary more, work harder to help the poor. None of these things are bad. However, sometimes the thing we need to do most is to not do anything, but rather to simply sit and remember that the reason we do any of this, the reason we do all of this, is because we love Christ. If we are focused on this, our love of Christ, then all those other things- prayer, humility, fasting- will flow from that love naturally. This is the better part, better than any attempts by us to force ourselves to do these things, thinking that simply accomplishing them in and of themselves will somehow make us love Christ more.
We need sometimes to stop affecting things and just sit and be affected by our Lord. So I ask you today; Do we spend so much time ministering to Christ that we forget to just sit and listen to Him? Do we remember that at all times it is not really we who are ministering to Him, but always He who is ministering to us?