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Charity Above All (Part 2)
Tuesday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
As they continued their journey he 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: Lord, I want to sit at your feet like Mary. I have many things crying for my attention, but I know that being here with you and listening to you speak is the only thing I really need. Give me the strength in this short time of prayer to remain with you throughout the day.
- Sitting at the Feet of Christ: Sometimes prayer seems confusing, faraway, impossible. We can feel like we need a new method, more peace and quiet, less to do. When we feel like prayer is impossible, this is the passage to return to. Prayer is not a method; rather, it is being like Mary and simply sitting at the feet of Christ. Or as St. Therese put it, “For me, prayer is a burst from my heart, it is a simple glance thrown toward heaven.” Sometimes it will seem like Christ says nothing, sometimes we will feel like doing anything besides getting on our knees, but those are the moments to strive even more to put our heart into prayer, make it real. Mary in this Gospel wanted to soak up every word that Christ uttered, so she planted herself next to him and listened. Let us do the same, and foster a real desire to listen to Christ.
- Lord, Tell Her to Help Me: Before we start criticizing Martha for being self- focused, we might want to put ourselves in her place. After all, it is not as if Christ came to the house alone—his seventy-two disciples just returned from their mission and they may have all accompanied him to Lazarus’s home. It’s very possible that Martha had almost one-hundred mouths to feed on short notice. Martha loved Christ as Mary did. Actually, she was one of the very few who explicitly called Jesus “Christ, the Son of God,” and that was right after Jesus had let her brother die (John 11)! But she was a practical woman. As she served she let her pragmatism get the best of her and believed that Mary’s time would have been better spent feeding the dozens of hungry men.
- Martha, Martha…: Jesus saw the hearts of both women—Mary was not being lazy, maybe just a little distracted, and Martha, while being very responsible, had forgotten that the guest is more important than the meal. So he gently soothed her— “Martha, Martha, it’s going to be okay! Mary has chosen the better part, and I can’t tell her not to love me.” It is easy to imagine Jesus with a gentle smile on his face, lovingly chiding Martha. When we feel overwhelmed by life and its very real difficulties, let us go to Christ, look him in the eyes, and hear him tell us, “Don’t worry! There is one thing necessary—put your trust in me, and I will never fail you.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, thank you for this time of prayer. I know that no matter how much it seems like I am weak, like I mess up, you will be there to pick me up and send me on my way. Teach me to focus on the one thing necessary, even in the midst of the activity and rush of daily life.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take a moment during the day to put myself back in your presence, and offer what I’m doing to you.
For Further Reflection: Fewer have reflected on “the one thing necessary” more than St. Augustine, particularly in his Confessions.
Written by Brother Riley Connors