In the Gospel of Luke, this story of Martha and Mary immediately follows the parable of the Good Samaritan. In the Good Samaritan parable, Jesus holds up as a model a person who goes out of his way to serve his neighbor. Yet in today’s Gospel, Jesus seems to chide Martha for her hard work and service. One may wonder what it is about Martha’s service that Jesus rebukes.

Jesus notices that Martha is “anxious and worried about many things.” This anxiety of Martha seems to be Jesus’ primary concern. For Jesus knows that anxiety can be an obstacle to holiness. Amidst the busyness of our own lives, it can be all too easy to feel the stress and anxiety that Martha felt. Rather than allowing this anxiety to be an obstacle between us and Christ, it can be viewed as an invitation to draw closer to him.

How might Jesus be inviting you to a greater sense of peace today?

—Tom Elitz, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic from the Maryland Province currently studying philosophy at Fordham University.