From the Pastor – July 17, 2016

“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.” (Lk 10:25-27)

There’s a tendency to take this Sunday’s Gospel as an encouragement of laziness.  We hear that Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus doing nothing, and Martha is doing all of the work. Yet, when Martha complains, Jesus reassures the two that Mary has “chosen the better part.” So doing nothing but listening to Jesus is better than helping out around the house?  Sounds like a quick way our of household chores!  “Need me to mow the lawn?  Sorry, but I’ve chosen the “better portion”; I’m heading to the Adoration Chapel to pray!

That’s not really what’s going on here.  What Jesus is referring to is not the literal “action” of the scene, with Mary praying and Martha working.  He’s actually more concerned with where their hearts are.  Jesus is concerned about Mary being anxious and worried.  And by singling out Martha’s anxiety in contrast to Mary’s peace, He’s pointing to Himself as the source of peace.

So now the big question.  How does this apply to us?  I would bet many of us more closely fit the Martha paradigm than the Mary model.  We are all incredibly busy, and we continue and continue to put things into our lives that make us busier!  Does that mean it’s bad to be busy?  Not necessarily.  But it’s bad when that busyness starts to affect our lives by making us worried and anxious.  And if that happens, we need to stop for a moment, and remember that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  When we’re at our busiest and our anxiety level rises is the time that we need to sit at the feet of Jesus (my favorite place is the chapel near the Tabernacle) and receive his peace.

During my first year as a priest, I spent part of my summer making a 30 day Ignatian silent retreat.  Far from being a “lazy” time, I finally understood why the “Spiritual Exercises” of St. Ignatius are called “exercises.”  Praying 4-5 hours a day is hard work!  Although I learned during my retreat that I wasn’t called to be a monk spending my whole life in contemplative prayer, I did learn where I needed to go when my life got too anxious: to the feet of Jesus.  So if you ever see me, and I seem “frazzled” (like a friend noticed recently), give me some of my own advice.  Tell me I need to go pray!  You know what?  I’ll agree with you.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty