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The Peace of Christ
Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi
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: Come Holy Spirit, bring me your peace. Allow me to put aside any distractions and focus on your word. Allow it to change my heart to become more peaceful.
- Wasting Time with Jesus: In this Gospel passage, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him. This is the position of discipleship: humbly being taught by the Lord. It looked like inactivity and seemed like a waste of time to Martha, but we can be assured that nothing spent on Jesus is ever wasted. A weekly hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is one way that we can lavish the gift of our time on Jesus. We may consider our schedules and think we do not have time to spend an hour doing nothing but praying at the feet of Jesus. However, the fruits of regularly spending time adoring Christ include having interior peace in the soul, a better awareness of God’s love for us, and less anxiety and stress, just to name a few. This is the “better part” that Jesus is calling us to. If your parish does not have perpetual Eucharistic adoration, you could choose a time each week to pray at the tabernacle in the sanctuary.
- Centered on One Thing: Sometimes this passage is interpreted as pitting prayer against work. This is not a teaching against working for the Lord. Instead, this passage is showing us how to work for the Lord more peacefully. Martha was “anxious and worried about many things.” Her heart was distracted by her to-do list and she was overwhelmed by all the many tasks necessary in serving the Lord. The thorns of worldly anxieties choked out the presence of the Lord (cf. Matthew 13:22). Now compare this to Mary, who sat peacefully at Jesus’ feet. Bishop Barron comments on this: “What Mary has chosen is…the focused life. She is anchored, rooted in the unum necessarium (one necessary thing).” Her whole being is centered on one thing: Jesus. The Benedictine motto ora et labora, pray and work, is a helpful way to think about this idea. We can prayerfully ground all the works we do in Christ, and he will bring us his peace.
- Man of Peace: St. Francis of Assisi is known as a man of deep peace who wished all to share in Christ’s peace. He and the brother Francisicans greeted everyone they met with the words, “May the Lord give you peace!” Pope Francis chose to be called after St. Francis of Assisi, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.” St. Paul wrote that Christ’s peace guards us against anxiety: “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). We can ask ourselves, do we truly value and prioritize Christ’s peace? Do we seek to bring it to others? Is there discord in any of our relationships? If so, how can Christ’s peace come to us in our conflicts?
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, I believe that you bring me the peace that the world cannot give (cf. John 14:27). Please increase that peace in my heart. When my heart is troubled and afraid, speak my name and calm my spirit. Help me to center my life on you completely so that all the work I do to serve you and others may be rooted in the gaze of your love.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.
For Further Reflection: Take a few minutes to enjoy praying with this three-minute Seek Peace Retreat from Loyola Press.
Carey Boyzuck, MTS, is a wife, mother, freelance writer, pastoral assistant, and lay member of Regnum Christi. She blogs at www.word-life-light.com.