“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
FRIDAY, July 1st Mt. 9: 9-13 Jesus asked: “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?”
Jesus is with us! In every tabernacle throughout the world, we have the Real Presence of Jesus in the most Holy Eucharist, yearning for someone to come visit Him! In every Holy Communion we receive Jesus in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into our very heart and being. In every holy hour, Jesus is present to us as our Lord, Savior, and best Friend!
The Question is how attentive are we to Jesus’ presence among us? Or are we busy about many things?
MARTHA & MARY: LEARNING NOT TO WORRY by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
Do you ever worry? If so, why do you worry? Then next: when do you worry? Still more: does your worrying help you in any way you can think of? Finally, what is it that can bring your worrying to a halt?
The whole reality of worrying so prevalent in these stressful times should be addressed, as well as what is the remedy.
Martha and Mary
Jesus had three friends, two sisters and their brother: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They lived not too far from the city of Jerusalem in a town called Bethany. Jesus was their friend and their guest. Jesus loved these three and found warmth and comfort in going to their home to visit. However, on one occasion there surfaces from the heart and lips of Martha an intense worry.
The reason for the worry? By nature Mary was more of a contemplative. This means that Mary thrived on silence, reflection, and contemplation. On the contrary, Martha was a ball of energy! By nature very active, Martha liked to get things done. She was a planner and an organizer. A homemaker and cook, she liked things to turn out according to her plans and schedule.
On one occasion Jesus was a guest and apparently Martha was off schedule and did not have things ready according to her preconceived plans. Somewhat nervous, moving a mile a minute caring and worrying for Jesus, she stopped to observe a scene that really bothered her. Despite the many tasks that were yet to be done, her sister Mary was simply sitting before Jesus apparently doing nothing; or at least Mary was not doing anything very profitable! Mary was just sitting at the feet of Jesus even though so much still had to be done!
What do you think was undone? Well, it could be that the table was not ready. Maybe in the kitchen the food was not yet totally prepared. Maybe there was not enough water for drinking or washing. Who knows, maybe the house was not as clean as it should have been! In any case, things were not ready according to the criteria of Martha and this was wrong and had to be remedied and as soon as possible!
How To Remedy It
Martha, the pragmatist and the “doer” has a simple, but what she thinks, very efficient idea: “Two hands are better than one”, or the other proverb: “Many hands make work light.” Therefore, Martha goes to Jesus to complain, what Martha deems a very justified complaint! In any case, the complaint is directed at having things ready quicker for Jesus! So Martha tells Jesus to tell Mary to help her! This seems to be a fair request, very logical, practical, well-ordered and reasonable!
Jesus gives a surprising response: a gentle rebuke! Instead of Jesus telling Mary to get up in a hurry and to help Martha so as to have the schedule run perfectly on time, according to Martha’s criteria, Jesus gently rebukes Martha. Listen to Jesus’ words: “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things. Mary has chosen the best part and she will not be deprived of it.”
How then can we interpret these surprising words of Jesus that are honestly in favor of what Mary is doing and a gentle fraternal correction to Martha?
Jesus is not displeased with the attention, concern, hospitality and hard work that Martha manifests toward Him. Never forget that the Church actually celebrates Martha as a saint every year on July 29th. The point that Jesus wants to highlight in this passage, as well as all throughout Sacred Scripture, is the importance of our prayer life, the importance of silence which fosters contemplation and union with the Lord Jesus. Martha symbolizes the active life of service to others, if you like, the Corporal Works of Mercy. “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a foreigner and you welcomed me…” (Mt 25: 31-46) Indeed we will be judged by Jesus on how faithfully we have lived out these works of mercy!
Mary’s Contemplative Life
However, the life of prayer or the life of contemplation has a supremely important role. It is precisely this that Jesus is trying to teach the world through the incident in Bethany and the tension that existed between Martha and Mary—two very good and holy sisters, but very different in temperament and character.
In fact Mary symbolizes all the different gestures we should strive to implement so as to live out a more contemplative lifestyle. Let us reflect upon these contemplative gestures of Mary.
1) SITS AT THE FEET OF JESUS. Mary is simply sitting lovingly at the feet of Jesus. Contemplative souls long to sit and be with Jesus for long periods of time!
2) CONTEMPLATES JESUS. Next, Mary simply gazes into the Face and eyes of the Lord Jesus. The Psalmist expresses this: “Look to the Lord and be radiant with joy.”
3) LISTENS TO JESUS. While sitting with Mary, we can certainly imagine Jesus speaking to Mary. Try to imagine the way Jesus speaks, the tone of His voice as well as the content of His message. Indeed, there is much food for thought here!
4) SPEAKS TO JESUS. It is not a monologue but a dialogue that is being carried on between Jesus and Mary in Bethany. This is the essence of prayer: to listen and to speak to Jesus. A great definition of prayer!
5) LOVES JESUS. However, the essence of this encounter between Mary and Jesus in the home of Bethany is love. Mary loves Jesus totally and Jesus in turn loves Mary, as well as Martha and Lazarus.
6) FRIENDSHIP WITH JESUS. The net result of this loving encounter is a dynamic and growing friendship between Mary and Jesus.
One of the reasons why we fall into the trap of being “Worry-warts”, and end up by making others worry too (remember, worrying can be contagious!), is that we can easily neglect the contemplative dimension in our lives. We can easily fall into activism. We can fall into the proverbial modern malady that we call the workaholic. We can fall into Marthaism—a new word that I have created related to this topic!
Therefore, when you find yourself nervous, tense, emotionally drained, frenetically moving from one activity to the next—in a word, you are all stressed out and bent out of shape, you will know the reason why! You have become too much Martha and not enough Mary.
A grace to pray for:
Beg the Blessed Virgin Mary for the grace to strike a harmonious blend between the Martha and the Mary in your life, the harmonious integration of a deep prayer life and zealous active life of fraternal charity. May Our Lady, the contemplative in the Annunciation, and Our Lady actively serving Saint Elizabeth, help us to strike that harmonious balance between deep prayer and apostolic zeal!