16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Ages 6-9): Focusing
(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
We know it is important that we listen to the Word of God. When we listen we learn more about the Kingdom of God. We learn the rules of the Kingdom. We learn how to help build it, how to live as disciples and friends. We learn what is right. In the Gospel for this Sunday, though, something seems not quite right.
Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.
Two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha welcomes him in. Mary sits at his feet.
"Sitting at his feet" is an interesting detail. For us, we sit at the feet of our kindergarten teacher. As we get older, we do not do this as much. Usually, we sit in chairs. Does this mean that Mary is a little child?
Possibly. But in Jesus' time, people who sit at the feet of teachers are not necessarily little children. They are disciples. Perhaps Mary is a disciple?
Mary sits at his feet and listens to his words. We wonder what that is like. Does he look into her eyes? Does he tell her a parable about the Kingdom of God? Does she drink in every word, storing it like treasure inside of her?
But Martha was distracted by her many tasks
When someone comes to visit, there are many tasks to be done. We want our guests to be comfortable; we want them to be well fed. We do these tasks as service to our guest. Our many tasks flow out of one thing—love for our guest.
But St. Luke says that Martha is distracted by her many tasks. She is not focused. Not focused on what? Not focused on whom?
Martha came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”
Now we see how Martha feels. Is it fair that she has to do all these things alone? Is this right? She is not happy.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;
He sees her! He knows how she feels!
there is need of only one thing.
One thing. Not many. What is Jesus telling Martha? None of her many tasks are important?
Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha's many tasks are important. They are service. Jesus serves. Disciples serve. Serving people is good. There are many ways to serve.
But Mary chooses something better. She chooses to sit and listen. Jesus sits and listens to God. Disciples sit and listen to Jesus. Listening to God is the better part. It is the one thing needed. It focuses us.
How do disciples know how to serve? There are so many things to do. They sit and listen. They focus. Out of the one thing, flows the many, but now they are focused.
Is it too late for Martha? If Mary has chosen the better part, can Martha choose it, too?
There is room at Jesus' feet for all disciples. Everyone who sits and listens to the Word becomes focused. Mary and Martha, and us, too.