“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42) In order to understand how Mary’s occupation represented the “better portion,” it is useful to consider her activity—sitting and listening to Jesus’ word—within the context of Luke’s larger story. For starts, this description supports a comparison of Mary of Bethany with Jesus’ own mother, who “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, 51). Both Jesus’ mother and Mary of Bethany are portrayed as true contemplatives, who embody the model described in the parable of the sower. In Luke’s version of that parable, the seeds “that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good [agathe] heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). For Luke, that is to say, true contemplation involves the hearing of God’s word in purity of heart. For Luke, both Jesus’ mother and Mary of Bethany are portrayed as occupied with the “one thing necessary.”
From The Jesus We Missed: The Surprising Truth About the Humanity of Christ by Patrick Henry Reardon.