Jesus said to Martha, “Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.” I am sure we can all relate to how Martha must have felt as she saw Mary relaxing with Jesus. We might think, at first glance, that Jesus’ response demonstrated a lack of appreciation for Martha’s legitimate efforts, but it would be good for us to look at this situation from Jesus’ perspective. Martha indeed was presenting him with a wonderful gift in preparing his meal for Him, but Mary was also presenting him with a wonderful gift. She was listening to Him. Martha could have chosen to sit with Him and listen to Him as well, but she did not, and although Jesus was grateful to her, He was also grateful for the choice that Mary had made. Imagine how Jesus must have felt after speaking to so many people so much of the time. He must have often wondered if any one ever really listened to Him or if any one ever truly understood what He was saying. How often does it feel like, although we have to talk to a lot of people, we have truly been listened to? And how do we feel when we have actually had the experience of truly being listened to? I think that we would pretty much all agree that the experience of being listened to is one of the most positive experiences that any one can ever have. And so, here was Mary, listening to Jesus. Of course, Jesus was not going to deny her of this opportunity. Nor was he going to deny Himself of the gift she was giving to Him. He probably needed to be listened to as much as he needed to have nourishment-and so do we, and so do the people we love, and the people who are around us. Jesus needed someone to listen to Him, He needed Mary to listen to Him, He needs us to listen to Him and we need to listen to Him. That is one of the main lessons of today’s Gospel: to listen to another human being is no small matter; it is a command of Jesus. To listen is to give a rare gift, to listen is to validate, to listen is to show someone that they matter, to listen is to show that we care, to listen is to heal, to listen is to love.
Fr. Joseph L. Maloney