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Antidotes to Anxiousness
Tuesday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
Opening Prayer: I am so grateful to be able to set aside this time to be with you and contemplate your Word, O Lord. I am so grateful that you have given me the gift of faith, by which I know with utter certainty that you are the source of all the truth and grace I need to grow in wisdom and holiness. I consecrate this time to your glory and the advance of your eternal Kingdom. Open my heart to receive and embrace whatever you want to give me today.
- Worried and Anxious: Jesus knows what we are going through. When Martha came to him with her complaint, he acknowledged and expressed clearly and precisely the turbulence she was experiencing: Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. Surely he could say the same thing about us right now. How heavily the worries and anxieties of life weigh upon us! Something within us makes us think we need to solve them all, right away, and everyone around us should come to our aid. The voice of the Lord reaches out to us amid the noise of our self-absorption and invites us to release the tangle of worries that paralyzes our hearts: Only one thing is necessary: to stay close to the Lord, to listen to him, to trust in him, to do all things joyfully for him. Somehow, Martha’s good and loving desire to serve Jesus and his disciples had lost its purity and so lost its joyfulness. The same thing happens to us. We want to do good things. We want to build up Christ’s Kingdom. We want to fulfill the duties of our state in life. But as we engage in all our activity, we tend to lose sight of the real reason behind everything—simply to love God and love our neighbor. Whenever our loving work becomes a joyless burden, we need to do exactly what Martha did: burst in on Jesus, unburden our hearts, and listen carefully to whatever he has to say to us.
- St. Faustina’s Wisdom: Today is the optional liturgical memorial of St. Faustina Kowalska, famous for her Diary, called Divine Mercy in My Soul. A Polish nun who lived during the first decades of the twentieth century, St. Faustina was privileged to receive visions and locutions from the Lord, through which Jesus wanted to give the Church and the world a remarkable and long-standing reminder of the power and the vastness of his redeeming mercy. The Diary contains many of St. Faustina’s dialogues with Jesus, but it also contains narrations and descriptions of her own spiritual journey. Reading the Diary straight through, one can’t help being struck by the difficulties and sufferings involved in the saint’s learning to trust Jesus more and more. Even after having received so many extraordinary graces, St. Faustina continually needed to follow in Martha’s footsteps—entering into Christ’s presence with her anxieties, worries, complaints, and confusions, seeking counsel and relief. We can take comfort in that, because we too identify very easily with St. Martha, who was burdened with much serving and who was anxious and worried about many things. We too need constant reminders that only one thing is necessary, and constant encouragement to choose the better part. Perhaps we can follow St. Faustina’s example and make, over and over again, the following resolution: “I will not allow myself to be so absorbed in the whirlwind of work as to forget about God. I will spend all my free moments at the feet of the Master hidden in the Blessed Sacrament” (Diary, 82).
- True God and True Man: Every Sunday we pray the Creed, and we publicly profess our faith in Jesus Christ as, “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God” who “was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.” Why would God, the all-powerful creator of the universe, become man? Why would he lower himself to the point that he could be sitting in Martha’s living room and get involved in a squabble between sisters? Isn’t that kind of thing below the dignity of God? Maybe if you think of God in some other way, it would be. But the one, true God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ clearly shows us that our most normal human experiences, even a squabble between sisters, even an impertinent outburst flowing from stress and worry, is meant to be a place of grace, a space to encounter and embrace Jesus in a new and enriching way. Jesus speaks directly into Martha’s complaint and points out a truth that we can live by. Jesus was so close to Martha and Mary that Mary felt comfortable sitting at his feet as he spoke in the living room, and Martha felt comfortable complaining and bringing him right into the nitty-gritty of her family affairs. Is Jesus that close to me? Am I that real in my conversations with him, or do I feel as if I have to put on some kind of show and hide my true self from the Lord? To what extent has Jesus truly become incarnate in my life?
Conversing with Christ: Lord, when I picture you responding to Martha’s complaint, I picture you smiling. You know how weak we are, and how petty we can become when we feel stressed out. I want to learn to go to you as soon as I lose my interior peace, as soon as I lose my spiritual balance. I want to learn to see your smile and hear your gentle corrections and guidance. I want to learn to be content and joyfully satisfied with the one thing necessary, and to choose every single day, every single moment of my life, “the better part.” St. Faustina, please pray for me!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take a few moments to write down in my own words what “the one thing necessary” means to me and what “choosing the better part” looks like for me in the current season of my life.
For Further Reflection: Watch this short video “The Four C’s of Christian Meditation” in order to learn how to sit at Jesus’s feet and listen to his words.
Written by Fr. John Bartunek, LC.
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