Life is a litany of choices. As I tell folks discerning their vocation, the worst decision is not to make a decision – do not fool yourself, not choosing is choosing.
And the decisions we make, remain with us. How difficult was it for St. Paul to become a self-described “Apostle” for the very people he persecuted? How could his past not have haunted him? Even today, commentaries suggest Paul persecuted Christians before and after his conversion to Christianity. He was, without question, passionate about his beliefs.
The story of Mary and Martha is a complex reflection on choice. For one thing, it is easy to identify with both characters – there is a bit of Mary as well as Martha in each one of us; both exhibit social virtues.
For starters, Martha welcomes Jesus into her home. And then she busies herself with household tasks, in what would appear to be an effort toward hospitality. But Martha, on this occasion, misses out. Her sister Mary is the one who capitalises on the presence of Jesus; Mary spends time with the guest and learns from him – a fact that very much angers her sister Martha. Martha is so bothered that she tries to tell Jesus, a guest in her home, what to do. “Tell her to help me”, she says. But Jesus does not concede. “Mary” he says, on this day, “has chosen the better part”. And he is will not take that away from her.
In life situations such as these arise all the time, and for everything to do there is a time. For us, the question becomes what time is it? In each moment there are choices to make. Do I prepare, as a good host does, or do I just be? Do I teach, or do I learn? So often there are no wrong choices, just choices.
For God, the choice is always the better one. God, at a moment in time, chose to be with us. God chose relationship, the consequences of which we still bare today. God chose to receive whatever this world put in front of him, and God suffered for it. But because of the choice God made, in the form of his Son, we have yet better choices to make. We chose to or not to relate as God relates with us. We chose to take what is offered, or to reject it. We chose to let God love us, or not.
As believers in a God who unequivocally chooses us, may we learn from what God does. May we take what this world has to offer, and give of ourselves to it. May we share who we are, do what needs to be done, and hear what our God has to say.