We, Filipinos are known for our hospitality. We spend great effort in making our guests feel at home and comfortable. I remember that when we were still in grade school, our parents would receive visitors and would ask us to leave our rooms and sleep with our other siblings while the guests were still staying with us. We experienced some inconvenience then but our visitors appreciated their accommodation so much so that our parents felt happy in the end. In the Gospel, our Lord Jesus was welcomed into the home of Martha and Mary. While Martha was burdened with serving the Lord, Mary sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha said, “Lord do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her. (Lk. 10: 38-42)
Many times in our life we are so worried about the day-to-day concerns that we tend to forget to sit back, reflect, and listen to God speaking to us. We didn’t realize that while what we were doing were important, we should have ensured that we spend time for reflection and prayer. St. Teresa of Avila once said: “If obedience sends you to the kitchen, remember that the Lord walks among the pots and pans and that he will keep you in inward tasks and in outward ones too”. While we are working, we should note that it can both be an act of faith and an act of prayer. The Lord is of course present in the work that we do, and any action can be imbued with prayer or in itself be a form of prayer. Thus, taken from that perspective, work can be refreshing and joyful, if we do it as an offering, as a prayer to God. St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei said in his seminal work “Friends of God”,
“Professional work, whatever it is, becomes a lamp to enlighten your colleagues and friends. That is why I usually tell those who become members of Opus Dei, and the same applies to all of you now listening to me: ‘What use is it telling me that so and so is a good son of mine — a good Christian — but a bad shoemaker?’ If he doesn’t try to learn his trade well, or doesn’t give his full attention to it, he won’t be able to sanctify it or offer it to Our Lord. The sanctification of ordinary work is, as it were, the hinge of true spirituality for people who, like us, have decided to come close to God while being at the same time fully involved in temporal affairs.”
The problem comes when our earthly dimension, the Martha aspect; pushes our Mary image out of our lives. Ideally, we should have a fine balance of our Martha and Mary aspects. However, worldly concerns affect the real balance we are experiencing. If we leave this to chance, chances are we will be living a life in misery and full of regrets over lost moments.
Finally, let us make sure that we never neglect our Mary aspect. Only then can we “maintain balance and live a life without regrets”.