Jesus said, "It is Mary who has chosen the better part." But we must be
careful not to assume that Martha was somehow inferior to Mary. After all, it was Martha who first professed her belief that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God (see John 11:27).
The setting of Luke's story is in the continuing context of discipleship. The 72 disciples had returned from their first mission (Lk 10:17-22), and Jesus reminds them of the blessings and privileges of discipleship (Lk 10:23-24). They are then reminded of the love commandments (Lk 10:25-28), and given an example of such love (Lk 10:29-37).
So now Jesus is simply teaching us a crucial point about true discipleship, through Martha in today's gospel (Lk 10:38-42). It is a matter of putting our priorities in their correct order, which is "formed, fed, and sent." It is first necessary to be "formed" by Jesus, to let him teach us through his inspired word in Holy Scripture every day of our lives. Then we are fed at the Eucharistic banquet, and are thereby empowered to serve Jesus effectively as he sends us to be his courier of love.
Martha had skipped over step one, in "Mary's choice": the need to be formed at the feet of Jesus by listening to his holy words. One cannot minister effectively to anyone without this daily spiritual formation from Jesus.
KNOW YOUR CATECHISM!
Article CCC 2559 reminds us of St. John Damascene’s teaching that "prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to
God”. But even in the presence of Jesus, one can face numerous distractions, just like Martha faced in today's gospel. So where is the real love of our hearts? CCC 2732 states that distractions are temptations, and the most common
hidden temptation is our lack of faith, which comes from misplacing our most important priority, to sit lovingly at the feet of the Lord before anything else. This is in itself a declaration of our humble dependence on the Lord, for he told us that "Apart from me, you can do nothing.”