As Jesus and his apostles continue on their final journey to Jerusalem, they stop off in Bethany to visit Martha and her sister Mary. Their brother Lazarus is not mentioned in Luke, but in the Gospel of John, we have the only other reference to these sisters along with their brother.
The Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture for Luke introduces this story:
Since the parable of the good Samaritan emphasizes love of neighbor, many scholars suggest that this next passage instead highlights love of “the Lord, your God” (10:27; see vv. 39–41, where the title “Lord” is again used for Jesus). Moreover, like the earlier list of women who followed Jesus along with the Twelve (8:1–3), this passage highlights women disciples, Martha and Mary, who happen to be siblings. In typical Lukan fashion, they complement James and John, siblings as well, who appeared at the beginning of the journey (9:54) that now continues. Martha welcomed Jesus, and so the passage further explains what it means to welcome Jesus and his gospel message (10:8) 
There have been consistent interpretations of this story as two aspects of spiritual life regarding activity and contemplation going back to at least the early ecclesial writer Origen. In this framework, Martha is seen to fulfill the active role and Mary the contemplation. This interpretation over the years has gained weight in describing two types of religious orders. The contemplation orders, usually cloistered, are dedicated to prayer with less interaction in the world. Active orders, also centered around prayer, have more interaction in the world. When it comes to religious women’s orders, this is where the distinction between nuns and sisters comes from.
This as an interpretation has its good points, but there is a lot more showcased here and the sisters’ interactions with Jesus. Luke introduces Martha as the owner of the house and her sister Mary, “who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.”
Brant Pitre gives us the 1st Century Jewish background on what this phrase means.
sitting at someone’s feet is a Jewish way of describing the posture or the position of a disciple to their master.
Luke later goes on to use this phase in the Acts of the Apostles to describe St. Pauls’s relationship as a student to the rabbi Gamaʹli-el’.
Luke gives us Martha’s state of mind as “being distracted with much serving.” She complains directly to Jesus that her sister is not helping her. She implies she wants him to rebuke Mary directly. Instead, Jesus gives her a light rebuke and provides a proper ordering for all of us. That is when we want to complain about the amount of work others are doing to see if we have chosen the “good portion” first.
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
There is much more here than a distinction between the active and the contemplative life here. As is often the case, there is a large both/and here. If we have not put Christ first in our life, we will be anxious and troubled about many things especially when we put all the onus on ourselves in what we want to accomplish. This anxiousness is often a lack of trust in Jesus’ will for us. Or a cry to God to look at us as to what we are doing for him and pointing out others seemingly less dedicated. As Jesus also told his apostles “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on.”
Mary is not being rebuked for her preparation and service, which are laudable in themselves. But, in the attitude, she carried them out. That in everything we do that is in itself a good, we can actively dedicate to God. As St. Teresa of Avila said, “God walks among the pots and pans.” Further as another Carmelite, Brother Lawrence, instructed in the classic “The Practice of the Presence of God” we can unite ourselves and talk with God in all the events of our daily lives.
Peter Kreeft in his commentary regarding Martha’s attitude. 
What is wrong with her? She is confusing the means with the end. The work is the means, but Christ is the end. The work is for him, not for itself. He is the one thing needful, the one thing necessary, the one thing that is required. He’s God. Our work is not. It’s for him, not he for it. Martha is dissipating herself and her love and her heart among many little things, splitting herself into all the many little things she identifies with. Her soul is like the little bouncing balls of mercury that fall out of an old-fashioned fever thermometer when it breaks. She has lost her interior unity. She is serving many gods; she is acting like a polytheist. But she can be free of that if only she realizes the simple truth that there is literally only one thing that is absolutely necessary, only one thing, and that is Christ himself. And Mary knows that.
We can be deprived of success in all those many good things that Martha is doing, but we cannot be deprived of success in the one good thing that Mary is doing. She is giving her whole heart and mind to Christ, and that is guaranteed success and reward, while nothing else is; none of the things Martha is doing are guaranteed success.
Luke goes on in the Acts of the Apostles to record an event that shows the correct ordering.
Interestingly, Lydia in Acts makes the right combination, responding like both Mary and Martha. First, she “listened” to the gospel message preached by Paul and then offered hospitality to him and his companions (Acts 16:14–15).
Fundamentally if we are “too busy to pray”, then we are “too busy.” Busy with busyness losing sight of the priority of Christ and how this should inform everything we do. We are all called to live as contemplatives in the world according to our state in life.
In the document Lumen gentium, issued by the Second Vatican Council, under the heading of “The Universal Call to Holiness in the Church” says:
Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history.
This is put succinctly by St. Teresa of Calcutta:
“We are all called to be contemplatives in the heart of the world — by seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time, and [God’s] hand in every happening; seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.”
- The Gospel of Luke, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, Rev. Pablo T. Gadenz
- Catholic Productions, Commentaries by Brant Pitre
- Peter Kreeft, Food for the Soul: Reflections on the Mass Readings Year C
- The Word of the Lord: Reflections on the Sunday Mass Readings for Year C – John Bergsma
- Lumen gentium
- Photo by Ben White on Unsplash