Now every work and word of our Savior is a rule of piety and virtue. For this is why He took on flesh, that we might imitate His conversation as much as we can. By His own example, Jesus teaches His disciples how they ought to behave in the houses of those who receive them, that they should not remain idle, but rather fill the minds of those who receive them with sacred and divine teaching. But let those who make ready the house, go to meet their guests gladly and earnestly, for two reasons. First, they will be edified by the teaching of those whom they receive; next, they will receive the reward of charity.
But Martha, when much troubled in her occupation and business of serving, interrupted our Lord, and complained of her sister. For it follows, and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?" For Mary was absorbed in the sweetness of our Lord's words; Martha was as preparing a feast for our Lord, in whose feast Mary was now rejoicing.
Our Lord therefore, answered as follows, "Martha, Martha. You are troubled about many things. But one thing is needful." Mary wished to be occupied about that one needful thing, according to that, "It is good for me to cling close to the Lord." (Psalms 73:28) The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are that one necessary thing. Jesus does not bring us to this one thing unless we being many have one heart in Jesus.
Note that Our Lord does not forbid hospitality, but being distracted by many things. And mark the wisdom of our Lord, in that at first He said nothing to Martha, but when she sought to tear away her sister from hearing, then the Lord took occasion to reprove her. For hospitality is ever honored as long as it keeps us to necessary things. But when it begins to hinder us from attending to what is of greater importance, then it is plain that the hearing of the divine word is the more honorable.
May we then, like Mary, be influenced by the desire of wisdom. For this is the greater, this the more perfect work. We should not let the care of ministering to others turn our minds from the knowledge of the heavenly word, nor reprove or think lazy those whom we see seeking after wisdom. Think again as what counts here as truly active participation.
Catena Aurea (St. Thomas Aquinas)
Monastic Constitutions (St. Basil the Great)
Sermon 69, Commentary on St. Luke (St. Cyril of Alexandria)
Sermon 53 on the New Testament (St. Augustine)
Explanations on the Gospels (St. Theophylact of Ochrid)
Commentary of Saint Ambrose on the Gospel according to Saint Luke (St. Ambrose of Milan)