My wife Karen has me read to her the daily Mass readings, followed by commentaries from two different books. The one book, as I've pointed out earlier, sometimes has dreadful commentaries. Today's was pretty bad, for example. Taking "you knit me together in my mother's womb" from Psalm 139, the commentary has the reader imagine his own birthday party, with God stepping up to the microphone to tell the reader how good the reader is and how God thinks about him all the time and can't take His eyes off him and thinks he's just grand, and so forth. Yes, I know, I'm thinking what you're thinking. Why does God need a microphone?
The other book is not so bad. But today it went a bit wrong.
Today's gospel is Martha and Mary, with Mary worshipping Our Lord at His feet and Martha doing all the grunt work in the kitchen. When Martha complains, Jesus quite clearly tells her, "Don't be jealous. Mary is doing the one thing necessary. She has chosen the better way."
Now I have never heard a homily or even read a commentary that acknowledged this - that Mary has chosen the better way. The commentary in the book today gets it wrong, too. "No matter what you do, God values it!" was the message, which is true enough, but not the point of the gospel.
We are activists. We think doing is better than praying, action better than contemplation, effort better than worship. But we get things backwards.
The contemplative life, the life of worshipping God in peace and quiet and looking at Him directly is superior to the active life. Yes, they're both "pleasing to God" if done for His sake, but the one thing necessary is not action, but worship. The work of the liturgy is superior to the work of the soup kitchen. We don't want to hear that - even we "conservative" "Devout Catholics" - but the fact is - from the mouth of God - that the only thing necessary is to love and worship Him; for from that springs everything else.
If we seek first the Kingdom, the rest will be added.
And we seek the Kingdom in quiet and hidden ways, not at a noisy party that's all about us with God singing our praises at the microphone.