In this Sunday’s readings, we hear the classic tale of Martha and Mary. Often, it is explained as the difference between contemplation and action. Mary, who sits beside the Lord, is the poster child for contemplation. Meanwhile, Martha, who is busy serving, is the image of action. Martha is concerned and anxious that she is doing all the serving by herself while her sister just sits with Jesus. Yet Jesus assures Martha that Mary has chosen the better path.
As someone who constantly feels like she has to do something, I find this passage to be challenging. With each news cycle, there is always something to respond to, an action to do to combat the hatred and violence ever-present in our society. Where is there time to just sit and listen to the Lord? Yet that is what this reading calls us to do, to be present to the Lord. In this instance, it means taking the time to listen. Yet we hear in the responsorial psalm that one “who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.”
In our readings, we hear two different ways to be present to Jesus. So what if the reading about Mary and Martha wasn’t putting contemplation against action? What if the message was about timing? There is a time for action and there is a time for contemplation. Or better yet, how can we be, as St. Ignatius calls it, contemplative in action? In what ways can we be present to the Lord by taking time to listen to what He has to say and to do justice in our own ways?
Teresa Marie Cariño is the director of parish faith formation at St. Ignatius Parish in San Francisco, CA.
She formally served as pastoral associate for youth and young adult ministry at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she has deep roots in the Jesuit education tradition.
After graduating from St. Ignatius College Prep, she attended the University of San Francisco (USF), earning a bachelor’s degree in theology and religious studies with minors in Catholic studies & social thought and Philippine studies. While at USF, Teresa worked in the university ministry office and co-founded the student leadership group Ignatian Companions. She also studied abroad with the Casa Bayanihan program at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, working with marginalized communities.
Upon graduation, Teresa joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, spending a year of service working as a tenant organizer in New York City.