We all want what is, not second best, but best. The standard of choice is different from person to person. What is best for this person may not be for others. For example, many people from overseas long to have the living standard of Australia; while some Australians are unsatisfied about the living conditions here. We all have different priorities in life. What is top priority for this person may be different for others. Our consumer society advertises that having more things makes life more comfortable. Many poor people who earn just enough food for a single day live happily. Trivial things certainly won't guarantee happiness. Jesus teaches that what enlightens our hearts comes not from the material world, but rather it comes from the Word of God. Without love we can't survive. Things that are done without love are disjointed. They act independently of each other, and sometimes contradict each other. Things that are done with love are integrated. Love gives meaning and harmony to life. We are called to love, and we must love the right person. It is not any kind of love but rather it is the love that Jesus talked about: 'love God and love our neighbour as ourselves'.
Jesus came to visit Mary and her sister Martha. For Mary, her first priority was listening to Jesus, while for Martha, her first priority was preparing a meal for the guest of honour. For Mary, listening to Jesus was the best choice, while Martha believed, that entertaining the guest was the most important part. Each of them had her own reasons to chose what was best suited to her. Mary wanted food for her soul, her spiritual need; while Martha felt the need to nourish the physical human body. There is no doubt, that both spiritual enrichment and physical nourishment are important, and they both need to be cared for. The problem arose when Martha made her complaint to Jesus about her sister Mary's attitude, and that was how Jesus got involved. For Mary, listening to Jesus not only enlightened her mind and heart, but it gave meaning and purpose to her life. She was relaxed and enjoyed listening to Jesus. Martha was busy with cooking and she was anxious because things were out of control. She made an appeal to Jesus: 'Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me'. Jesus took the opportunity to tell her about what was most needed. He recognized her busy-ness and her contribution to make Him felt welcome. Jesus told her that the purpose of His visit was not so much about food for the body, but rather food for her soul. He came not to receive but to give, to give the Word of God.
We don't know what Jesus taught Mary. However, we know for sure that later on, when Martha and Mary were confronted with the death of their brother, Lazarus, each of them reacted differently. Mary was calm and quiet, while Martha was restless and vocal. Mary's inner strength would help her to deal with the reality of grief and sorrow, life and death in a calm manner. Martha believed that Jesus arrived too late to save her brother, because he was in the tomb for three days- the same number of days Jesus was in the tomb.
We pray for the wisdom to choose the better part to lighten the burdens of life.