On the 16h Sunday of Ordinary Time (July 17, 2016) we get the Martha and Mary story. Here is my blog entry from six years ago (slightly revised). : For the Mass readings for each Sunday there is a connection between the Old Testament and Gospel. In this case Martha, in preparing meals, is acting as Sarah did when she and Abraham greeted guests. Martha was doing what Sarah had done, preparing a meal for a guest. This is a basic ministry of hospitality, from which the blessing of the Covenant flowed to Abraham and his descendants (including us.) When Martha complains that her sister Mary is conversing with Jesus instead of helping out, she is rebuked. She is told not to be anxious about many things and that Mary has chosen the better part.
This gospel is often preached to make the point that Mary's life of contemplation and prayer is superior to Martha's life of active service. This is, I contend, the wrong point. Martha's problem was not that she was actively serving her guest, just as her ancestor Sarah had done. Her problem was that she gave into resentment and anxiety over having the meal ready. She is told that Mary has chosen the "better part." The adjective "better" is not intended to compare active service with quiet contemplation. Rather, it compares practicing serenity with giving into anxiety and resentment at having to do the task that is before her. Gregory Pierce, in his audio CD on spirituality of work, contends that Martha was so focused on her work that she forgot that the Lord was in the house.
These are good words to remember when we find ourselves overly busy and wishing for a different, more contemplative life.