She Sat at His Feet and Listened

When I was in college, I had a professor of Shakespeare whose classes often lasted nearly three hours. There was no plan to the day’s lecture, no work to be done; he simply discoursed freely on the genius of Shakespeare, weaving in philosophy and history throughout his talk, so that by the end of each session one felt one had been transported through vast realms of truth. Far from being bored, I delighted in listening to him.

Sitting Still and Listening

I wonder if perhaps today we have lost that pleasure of simply sitting still and listening. Today’s Gospel reading gives us the familiar story of the two sisters, Martha and Mary, in which Martha is occupied with “many things,” attending to domestic cares, while Mary simply sits at the feet of Jesus and listens to him. In reply to Martha’s complaint, Jesus reveals that Mary, in allowing herself to draw close to the Lord, has chosen “the better part.”

She Sat at His Feet

What strikes me as I reflect upon this scene today is the textured, concrete reality of coming close to Jesus. We are told that Mary “sat at his feet.” Consider for a moment the bold confidence of her love for Him! She did not linger in the back of the room to hear his words but took courage in coming up to the front, sitting right at his feet.

Imagine, for a moment, what it would be like to come that close to Jesus—to sit on the floor right before Him, close enough to touch His feet, to behold his face, to receive the warmth of His gaze. To listen to him was not simply about receiving His wisdom, as we would from a teacher, but about experiencing His presence.

If only we, too, might savor the same gift of sitting at the feet of Jesus!

The truth is, we can. Every time we come to Adoration with an earnest heart, we experience His Presence just as fully as Mary of Bethany did two thousand years ago. We come with no expectation, no plan, but simply open ourselves totally to the Lord: to His light, His wisdom, and his outpouring of love.

The One Thing Necessary

I have come to see the time spent in Adoration as a step outside of time, bathed in the air of eternity. When I enter the chapel, I sit low on the ground just a few feet away from Jesus in the Eucharist, and somehow that seems just the right position. I come with empty hands and an open heart, like the blank pages of a notebook, desiring simply to receive whatever the Lord gives in the silence. All else fades away. In a very real sense, one is able to step outside the constraints of time and find true rest. Here, then, we encounter the “one thing necessary”: Jesus alone. And this, we are told, “shall not be taken away.”

There is something telling in that small phrase from Jesus, “it shall not be taken away.” Like Martha, many of us cling to the cares of the world out of fear that they shall be taken away from us. Fear spreads through our thoughts, convincing us that what we enjoy in the world will be taken away, and so we cling to them all the more. Yet this is entirely the wrong stance, Jesus reveals. Let them go. Instead, look to the one thing necessary. Let us come close to Jesus and set our gaze on Him alone, for in Him we find our true anchor. He shall not be taken away. Let us come and sit at his feet and savor the silence with Him.

[Readings: Jon 3:1-10; Lk 10:38-42]

Radhika Sharda, MD

Radhika Sharda is a practicing physician and a convert to the Catholic faith from a Hindu background. She has written a book of essays on literature, Savour, which may be found on Amazon. She lives in Raleigh, NC, with her three young boys.


  1. Jerry DEMELO Jr on October 10, 2023 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you for another great reflection. Sometimes I think I am a Mary with Martha brain. I have such a hard time to quiet myself in adoration without my mind drifting away from just being at his feet.

    I am a bit jealous that you can just be. Thanks again

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