The above advice of Jesus to Martha also applies to us today amidst the secularistic hustle and bustle of events that seduce one’s attention and threaten forgetfulness of the “better portion” that Mary of Bethany chose in comparison to her busy and upset sister. The Lord simply wants us to listen when he speaks to us, as in prayer. The problem comes when we lose focus of our over-arching aim to please God and follow his will, not ours. This happens when our focus turns to other persons who act differently than what we expect them to do or because their behavior differs from ours.
The “better portion,” Jesus reminds, is listening or making way for the Word of God to sink deeper roots in our hearts. When we try hard to read and practice God’s Word, we will pause amidst our busy-ness and reflect discerningly on what the Lord expects from us in particular situations. Then any decision we come up to will approximate what God also wants us to do, for his greater glory. We will have no time to delve on what others will think or say of what we have chosen in our intent to do what the Master pleases, what alone is necessary for our salvation.
Martha is aware that Jesus is “the one thing necessary” when she proclaims her faith at Jesus’ power to resurrect [Lazarus] — “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world” (Jn 11:27). Jesus also asks us if we truly believe, and reminds us to care for our hearts as good soil where he continues to plant his words and we maintain the right atmosphere through prayer, good works, self-sacrifice, and reception of the sacraments. Let us plan well our own ‘planting’ of the seeds sown by the Lord in our day by day routine so that the storms of life may not destroy our ‘house built on rock’. “But anyone who hears these words of mine and does not act accordingly, is like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain poured, the rivers flooded, and the wind blew and struck that house; it collapsed, and what a terrible fall that was!” (Mt 7:26-27)