How to Choose the Better Part

Gen 18:1-10; Col 1:24-28; Lk 10:38-42

Why did Jesus say that Mary had chosen the better part? Is it because she “sat beside the Lord at His feet listening to Him speak?” How is her disposition better than that of her sister Martha who was serving Him until she became “burdened by much serving?” (See Lk 10:38-40)

Mary can be said to have chosen the better part because she chose to receive first all that Christ was offering to her. Hers was the better part because, before saying or doing anything, she chose the ever-necessary first step of receiving everything from Christ. She first received His person, words, desires and plans, etc., “She sat beside the Lord at His feet listening to Him speak.” Despite the criticism from her sister, Mary is so much at peace because she first received all that Christ offers.  

On her part, Martha received and welcomed Christ into her home but did not first receive all that He was offering to her. Because she failed to first receive from Him what He made present, she became tired and frustrated with her service and began to complain. She lost her joy and peace in serving the Lord Jesus. She lost her focus on the Lord being served and began to compare herself with her sister Mary. She even began to accuse Jesus and her sister of being uncaring, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?” She became demanding and bossy too, “Tell her to help me.” She was overcome by many worries and anxieties. We experience these and similar things when we do not first receive from Christ.

We cannot give what we do not have. We also cannot have what we have not first received from Christ, “What do you have that you have not received?”(1Cor 4:7) Thus, before doing anything in the service of the Lord Jesus, we must first receive everything that He is offering to us. There is immense spiritual power in this complete reception of Christ and all that He brings, “To all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God.” (Jn 1:12)

There are certain things that we must receive first from Christ if we are going to serve Him faithfully and joyfully. We must first receive the gift of His love for us, “The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Spirit that has been given to us” (Rom 5:4). This love is what moves and sustains us in faithful service, “The love of Christ impels us” (2Cor 5:14). We cannot serve Him faithfully when we doubt or question His love for us.

We must also receive His words first. When we receive His self-revealing words, He brings meaning into all our life experiences. His words affirm us in the good that we do in His service, “Mary has chosen the better part.” He also gently rebukes us when we go astray, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and anxious about many things.” We cannot go astray or become frustrated when we are guided by His words and promises, “Your word is a light to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps 119:105).

We must also receive His graces and inspirations no matter what they may cost us or where they may lead us. There is no divine inspiration that is not accompanied by sufficient graces. As long as we are determined to serve Him and do His will, we will find that His grace is indeed “sufficient for us” (2Cor 12:9).

Lastly, we must receive His forgiveness for all our sins. We cannot serve Him faithfully when we are holding on to our sins and regrets of the past or pretending that we are not sinners and sinful. We cannot be generous in serving the Lord if we are not generous in seeking and receiving His forgiveness for our sins, “He who is forgiven little, loves little” (Lk 7:47).

After a life of faithful service and suffering for the sake of the Gospel, St. Paul said, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” He is not blaming or accusing anyone for his sufferings. He is not accusing God of short-changing him. He is not complaining or wallowing in self-pity. But he is filled with joy in his sufferings for the Lord.

He can do so only because he has first received all that Christ offered to him. He had received his mission from God, “I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me.” He has received from Christ a participation in His sufferings for the salvation of souls. He had received from Christ the meaning of suffering in the life of the Christian, “In my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the Church.” Before proclaiming Christ, he had also first received the glorious hope of the indwelling Christ, “Christ in you, the hope for glory” (See Col 1:24-28).

“Christ in you, the hope for glory!” We do not have hope for glory because of anything that we have, do, or achieve on our own. We have hope for glory only because Jesus Christ gives Himself to us, abides in us, always acts in our lives, and is continuously bestowing on us the amazing gifts He merited for us by His passion, death and resurrection. We lose that hope when we do not receive it continuously from Christ.

We only have to receive these gifts first and then use them in serving Him all the days of our lives.  Let us begin today to first receive all that He gives to us with gratitude because they are all gifts that we cannot earn or merit. Let us receive them all with generosity because He gives generously. Let us receive them with trust because He gives us only what we truly need for our ongoing sanctification.

Should we struggle in this regard, let the Blessed Virgin Mary teach us and help us to also choose the better part. Isn’t she also one of Christ’s special gift to us, “Behold, your mother” (Jn 19:27). Didn’t she first receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit and all that He offered to her before becoming the ever-faithful virgin and Mother of God? Didn’t she refuse nothing of what God offered to her in her earthly pilgrimage? Didn’t she do and endure great things for Him till the end because He “who is mighty had first done great things for her?” (Lk 1:49) Hence, she could follow Jesus all the way to Calvary, receive His dead body from the cross, bury Him, and then wait in hope for His glorious resurrection.

If we allow the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us first receive everything from Christ like she did, we too shall always choose the better part. It is only then that we can do and endure everything joyfully for Him.  

Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!

Photo by Joshua Davis on Unsplash

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Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at

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