(Luke 10: 38-42) There’s a rather famous question in our family, one that we’ve asked countless times to the friends and guests who’ve shared our table: If you could have a meal with any person who’s ever lived, who would it be and why? As we take turns going around the table giving our answers, it undoubtedly makes for a very interesting and lively conversation. Of course, the point of the question isn’t about what you would eat in this imaginary scenario, but with whom you would share the meal. Likewise, at our table, what’s most important isn’t the food; it’s the conversation – the chance to get to know someone at a deeper level. The meal simply provides the opportunity for a personal human connection.
And human connection is really what we all hunger for…that “look of love” is what we crave. When I read this week’s Gospel – the story of Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha – I was struck by this image of Mary sitting at the feet of the Lord. While Martha hurries around anxiously, Mary is peacefully gazing up at Jesus, listening attentively to all that He has to say. It’s a study in contrasts. Truth be told, I can more readily see myself as Martha, as I love to attend to all the little details when we have guests. Yet Jesus tells Martha very clearly that what He desires most is our undivided attention. And is that really any different from what we all want when we are with those whom we love? We naturally want them to be fully present to us – not trying to do a hundred other things or, in this day and age, checking emails or texts!
The art of conversation is a skill that is sorely lacking in our world today. It requires both curiosity and listening, two qualities that take us outside of ourselves and into an encounter with another person. What’s more, we must work to avoid the myriad of distractions around us. Only then can we fully give of ourselves in that moment and be undivided in our attention and love. Without a doubt, the greatest encounter we can ever experience is one with Christ himself, and our conversation with Him is that which we call prayer. Christ knows how busy we are, how many things there are to do each day. But if we offer Him our time and attention – the first place in our lives – He will give us that “one thing [that] is needful,” His love that transforms us and makes us whole (Lk 10: 42). Really, the only thing that prevented Martha from joining Mary at Jesus’ feet was her disposition. So what’s keeping us from spending time with the Lord, too?
– Kelley Holy