Even though it's the feast of St. Francis, I've been keeping dear St. Martha company today, courtesy of this morning's Gospel. I love her, because I can so identify with her rather neurotic relationship with Jesus. You see, I am convinced that Martha desperately wanted to be just where Mary was. Sort of. As soon as she could get dinner out of the way, and maybe a little housecleaning. Whatever.
If Martha was really like me, she probably felt that there was stuff to do first--stuff that stood in the way of her giving herself permission to sit still and listen to Jesus. And maybe some of that pique in her voice as she tries to commandeer the Divine Guest is from the realization that Mary wasn't simply oblivious to the practical needs of life: Mary was freer of them than Martha was at that point.
That spiritual freedom is what we find in the saint of the day, too. Francis was so free of the compulsion to "seek first the practicalities of life" that he even gave away his clothes, in the confidence that God would take care of everything.
Maybe for Francis and for Mary, that freedom of spirit came from having had an experience of their relationship with Jesus that Martha had still not yet fully processed. Her turn would come (see John 11!).