The Mary or Martha Conundrum

  • July 18, 2016

Sometimes, God works in not so mysterious ways. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that today’s Gospel speaks to something I’ve been anxious about for weeks now. 

This is my second time going on a World Youth Day pilgrimage. The last time I went was 2011 in Madrid, Spain. I was 20 years old and it was a very defining experience in my life. It challenged me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I won’t bore you with the gory details, but suffice to say, I still reap the graces I gained from that pilgrimage.

This time around, it’s a whole new ball game. Now, I’m attempting this weird balancing act between my duty to my work and my personal intention for this pilgrimage. I firmly believe these don’t have to be mutually exclusive. The fact that I can incorporate my faith into my work is rewarding in so many ways. But in many ways, the lines can also get very blurry.

So back to the Gospel. How does one discern whether he or she is called to be a Mary or a Martha in every situation? The way I see it, Martha can be just as valuable as Mary is. 

After all, the saying goes that we are called to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19, WYD 2013 theme). Jesus commands us to be agents of the Good News and that means we have to do work that will make His plan possible on Earth. 

For me, I think that means telling the good folks that read The Catholic Register about how the Church’s biggest gathering is forming its next generation of leaders. It’ll be quite a bit of work. I will need to stay alert and work smart.

But then, do I deprive myself of Mary’s experience to sit at Jesus’ feet and just listen to what He has to tell me? If I must stay alert and work smart, will I have time to just be? I worry that I won’t be able to experience my pilgrimage fully, if I’m always trying to think about being one step ahead. If I’m not careful, I will risk living these moments vicariously through a camera lens.

As I sat in Mass worrying about my flight time, I prayed for balance and I’m optimistic. I think it’s possible.