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The One Thing Necessary

Have you ever read the story of Martha and Mary in the Gospels and felt a little… confused?

I’ve always had a lot of sympathy for Martha.

Of course she wanted to sit at the feet of Jesus too.

If Mary had been helping, they could both have done it sooner.


Well, no. Why? Because Our Lord says so.

Let’s look at the passage a little more closely. I’ll quote it here in its entirety, as it’s quite short:

As they traveled along, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to His message. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations to be made. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha. You worry and fret about so many things, but one thing is necessary. It is Mary who has chosen the better part. It is not to be taken from her.”” Lk. 10:38-42

Several things stand out to me. Martha is described as “distracted”. She also does not speak directly with her sister. She goes immediately to blaming her and complaining to Jesus. She even is blaming Him somewhat, asking “Lord, do you not care?” She is focused on herself, saying “my sister has left me to serve alone… tell her to help me!” She is thinking that she is alone…

How many of us have believed the lie that we are alone. when in reality we always have the Lord with us?

All of this points, I think, to the fact that Martha’s heart was not completely in the right place. She had the good desire to serve the Lord, but she had also allowed some un-useful beliefs to take root in her mind. Her interior resentment created disconnection in both her relationship with her sister, and with Jesus.

Our Lord’s rebuke is so gentle and tender:

“Martha, Martha. You worry and fret about so many things, but one thing is necessary.”

What if this is always true? That only one thing is necessary?

There is a lot of evidence to support the fact that trying to focus on multiple tasks at once actually undermines our productivity. (Often called multitasking, but really it’s multifocusing).

What if at any given moment, God only gives us one thing to do?

Wouldn’t that be so freeing? To just know that one thing, and do it really well? To be fully present, focused, and, no matter how “small” the task is, doing it with great love?

Martha was operating with the mindset of “I have to do it all. It’s all important.”

This led her to:

  • Be focused on the list of to-dos, on doing it all
  • Not being a contemplative while she did it
  • Not leaving space to hear the Lord’s voice

With all the extra noise in the world today, whether that’s our constant negative self-talk, or consumption of media on our phones, or just physical noise in our environment, it’s so easy to live distracted.

To not even have the space in our life to think about what that one thing necessary might be for us right now!

That is living with a Martha mindset.

I want you to imagine living your life with a Mary mindset. “Only a few things really matter. Only one thing is necessary right now. I choose to do this one thing in this moment.”

You would:

  • Pause to discern what really matters
  • Live an unhurried life
  • Create space for their own needs to be met
  • Say no to everything except what’s necessary

The Mary mindset is where it’s AT, my friends.

Doesn’t it just sound like such a calmer, more peaceful, more purposeful, and more enjoyable way to live?

THAT is the kind of abundant, light, free, unburdened life Jesus came to give us. That is the point of this whole Easter thing.

A Catholic coach can help you experience more of that.

I want to tell you that changing from a Martha to a Mary mindset is TOTALLY POSSIBLE for you.

Even if you’ve spent a lifetime operating this way.

Even if you can’t see how it could be possible.

Even if you feel powerless to change “how you are”.

Even (especially!) if you have “a lot going on”.

I invite you to book a call with a Catholic coach, whether it’s a discovery call or a monthly call within the Academy, and they’ll explore this very real possibility for you, and how together you will make it inevitable with Catholic mindset coaching.