The story of Martha and Mary invites us to compare them; and first of all, a sense of fairness suggests we look into what Martha had going for her.
Even though St. John spoke of a brother named Lazarus, still it was Martha’s house. It speaks highly of Martha that Jesus felt he could barge in on her with his wandering fishermen.
Martha should be seen as the patron saint of people who operate shelters for the homeless. They might complain about conditions, but the thought of not feeding hungry men would never occur to them.
Mary’s religious value was a more obvious thing. If she were living today she would never skip Mass for a fashion show or a round of golf.
It is when we turn aside for a share of serious prayer, that we feel envious of Mary. To get some feeling of closeness to Jesus, we might mutter some hymn like, “O Sacred Heart of Jesus, I thee adore. O make me love thee more and more.”
But better still, the Gospel passage states, “She sat beside Jesus at his feet listening to him speak.” I had always pictured Mary right in front of Jesus, but since she was at one side , what is to prevent your slipping in at the side that Mary has left open for you? Use your imagination. Plant yourself there, then, quietly wait for Jesus to have his say.
That reminds me of when I was a seventeen-year-old novice trying to absorb what we were being taught about prayer. The priest insisted that us boys should not do all the talking. Rather, we should remain quiet, waiting for Jesus to speak.
When I sat quietly, hearing nothing, I began imagining what Jesus would be saying to me. And pretty soon I had a two-way conversation. But soon after faking it that way I began getting headaches.
If you are a mentally healthy person you are never going to hear Jesus speaking to you. But all is not loss. If you are quietly waiting for some light, the thoughts from your own memory will come to you. And they will rise up because Jesus is having it happen.