Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Oct 5, Tuesday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time

From: Luke 10:38-42

Martha and Mary Welcome Our Lord
[38] Now as they went on their way, He (Jesus) entered a village; and a woman named Martha received Him into her house. [39] And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to His teaching. [40] But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." [41] But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; [42] one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good position, which shall not be taken away from her."

38-42. Our Lord was heading for Jerusalem (Luke 9:51) and His journey took Him through Bethany, the village where Lazarus, Martha and Mary lived--a family for whom He had a special affection, as we see in other passages of the Gospel (cf. John 11:1-14; 12:1-9).

St. Augustine comments on this scene as follows: "Martha, who was arranging and preparing the Lord's meal, was busy doing many things, whereas Mary preferred to find her meal in what the Lord was saying. In a way she deserted her sister, who was very busy, and sat herself down at Jesus' feet and just listened to His words. She was faithfully obeying what the Psalm said: `Be still and know that I am God' (Psalm 46:10). Martha was getting annoyed, Mary was feasting; the former coping with many things, the latter concentrating on one. Both occupations were good" ("Sermon", 103).

Martha has come to be, as it were, the symbol of the active life, and Mary that of the contemplative life. However, for most Christians, called as they are to sanctify themselves in the middle of the world, action and contemplation cannot be regarded as two opposite ways of practising the Christian faith: an active life forgetful of union withGod is useless and barren; but an apparent life of prayer which shows no concern for apostolate and the sanctification of ordinary things also fails to please God. The key lies in being able to combine these two lives, without either harming the other. Close union between action and contemplation can be achieved in very different ways, depending on the specific vocation each person is given by God.

Far from being an obstacle, work should be a means and an occasion for a close relationship with our Lord, which is the most important thing in our life.

Following this teaching of the Lord, the ordinary Christian should strive to attain an integrated life--an intense life of piety and external activity, orientated towards God, practised out of love for Him and with an upright intention, which expresses itself in apostolate, in everyday work, in doing the duties of one's state in life. "You must understand now more clearly that God is calling you to serve Him IN AND FROM the ordinary, material and secular activities of human life. He waits for us every day, in the laboratory, in the operating room, in the army barracks, in the university chair, in the factory, in the workshop, in the fields, in the home and in all the immense panorama of work. Understand this well: there is something holy, something divine, hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each of you to discover it [...]. There is no other way. Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or else we shall never find Him. That is why I can tell you that our age needs to give back to matter and to the most trivial occurrences and situations their noble and original meaning. It needs to restore them to the service of the Kingdom of God, to spiritualize them, turning them into a means and an occasion for a continuous meeting with Jesus Christ" ([St] J. Escriva, "Conversations", 114).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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