“Martha, you are distracted by too many things. Mary has chosen the better part.” So said Jesus in the familiar story of Mary and Martha. How can we not be distracted? There are too many things going wrong in our world not to be. Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Texas. As I write it’s Nice, France. Too many mass shootings. Too many unnecessary deaths at the hands of those on whom we rely to protect and serve. Too many assassinations of our finest and bravest at the hands of the vengeful. In the background are the daily stories of refugees fleeing unspeakable terrors, willing to risk death at sea or life penned up in camps as the better choice. How can we not be distracted? In the midst of it, in our own communities, we are surrounded by voices of contempt, suspicion, conspiracy, and bigotry, each justifying itself on nothing more than rumor, hearsay, and the irresponsible trash talk that has become the source of “news” for many.
We desperately need the better part chosen by Mary, but what is it? The old hymn says it well, “This is my Father’s world.” It is not ours. We are merely the stewards of it, and each of us only for a short time at that. For those of us who claim to be Christian, we have our instructions. We have been told what stewardship entails. Love God with all our being. Love our neighbors as ourselves (remember the Good Samaritan?). Love each other as Christ has loved us. Everything comes after that. It is the better part. Amidst our distractions, let us strive to be agents of Christ’s love in a world so desperate for it. No more dodging the question or making facile excuses. These were commandments, not suggestions. It isn’t just the better part, it’s the only part.