As we scour the scriptures and peruse the lives of the saints, there are some holy souls who we are not quite as eager to identify with as others, if we are honest. For instance Saint Jerome the grumpy, Saint Thomas the doubter, and another one who fits into that group, Martha the anxious and troubled.
Often times we don’t want to admit that, in all probability, we are nearer to them in thought and action than to a Saint Therese or a Saint John who, granted, weren’t without faults, but none the less, whose faults weren’t quite so glaring, and certainly not the foremost thing for which they are most remembered.
And yet, it is true to say, these wonderful souls may be the very ones who give us the most courage and assurance. It is because of them, we can find in the Scriptures encouragement and hope. We are not alone in our weakness and failures as we read the consoling words Jesus speaks to them, to us, words that let us know the loving patience He has for all who struggle with all manner of things from time to time.
In the case of Martha, who we read about in the Gospel today, it wasn’t the actual service that she was rendering to the Lord that caused Jesus to say what He did, but rather, the state of mind she was in. She was anxious and troubled. She was, in a word, distracted, not present to the Lord.
In the midst of her concerns and worries, and because of them, she could not hear His voice. As present as He was in that little house, she allowed the noise of her busyness to drown Him out.
We all know how easy it is to become overly occupied, too busy, deafened by the din of our own distraction, unable to hear the voice of God, but He always gives us the grace we need. We can look at a Saint Teresa of Calcutta, or a Mother Cabrini who, although busy about many things, never allowed their work or apostolate to deafen their ears to the One they loved and served. They, like Mary, made themselves always present to the Lord, and understood what was most important. They kept the eye of their hearts always focused on Jesus, even in the midst of the busyness of their lives, and because of that, accomplished great things.
As Jesus was so present in that little house in Bethany, incredibly, so He is present in the rooms of our own poor hearts. He waits for us to come, to listen, and to converse with Him, even in the midst of many things.