Martha and Mary | iPray with the Gospel
Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Martha wasn’t idle. She was doing lots of things. As a matter of fact those things were also necessary. But they were not the ‘priority’. Priority comes from the Latin ‘prioritas’: fact or condition of being prior. It doesn’t mean that it is the only thing. It means that it is the first on the to-do list. First things first. Mary was in prayer, listening to Our Lord, and that was more important than anything else.
“First, prayer; then, atonement [sacrifice]; in the third place, very much ‘in the third place’, action” wrote St Josemaría. When you sketch a plan of action you should put prayer first. For whatever intention: to bring a friend to God, to change your ways, to overcome your vices, to change the atmosphere or even the world, prayer is always the priority. After prayer and sacrifice then comes action, which can’t be neglected either. St Augustine once said “pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you”.
A young girl had fallen in love with the wrong guy. She had made up her mind to leave university and go to live with him. Her dad tried every argument to make her realise her mistake, but all to no avail. Eventually the father broke the news to the mother. She said ‘Let’s fix this mess’, and putting on her coat, she left the house. In the evening the father had a phone call from his daughter. Everything was solved. She had understood her folly and broken up with that guy. The father turned to his wife and asked, ‘What did you say to her?’ ‘I didn’t say anything ”to her”’ she answered, ‘I said everything “to Him”.’ She had spent the whole afternoon in prayer before the Tabernacle… First things first! Mary, my Mother, may I learn from you to always put prayer first.
Rev. George Boronat M.D. S.T.D is a Catholic priest from the Prelature of Opus Dei, working in the Archdiocese of Southwark in London. He is the Chaplain of The Cedars Independent School in Croydon, and also works as Chaplain of Kelston Club & Study Centre (Balham) and Oakwood Independent School (Purley). He has developed his pastoral ministry mainly with young people and is the author of iPray with the Gospel: Resources to Help Young People Pray (www.ipraywiththegospel.org).