Lk 10:38-42

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Balancing Work and Prayer

My name is Patrick, and I’m a workaholic.

My addiction started when I was a teenager. I loved to spend time with one of my best friends, a kind older Jesuit—but whenever we were together, I always wanted to do something. One day, he said to me, “Patrick, you are like Martha in the Gospel. You are always doing—but how often do you just sit and listen?”

In today’s reading, Jesus tells Martha that “Mary has chosen the better part.” We too need to hear Jesus’ words. God does not need our workaholism to keep the kingdom of heaven running. Instead, as St. Ignatius taught, we need to find a balance between work and prayer. Like Mary, we sit at the feet of Jesus and soak up his wisdom and love. Then, like Martha, we work hard to carry that love out into the world.

—Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ, is a Jesuit regent and assistant professor of psychology at Creighton University. He is the Author of The Spiritual Work of Racial Justice and The Crucible of Racism.


Jesus, may I never be too busy to sit with you and hear your voice. Amen.

—Patrick Saint-Jean, SJ