Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We continue to hear from the Lord what it means to be his disciple or what it means to be an adult Christian. A few things are needed to make a good meal. I don’t cook much but I know how to make a good Italian tomato sauce. You need to have the right kind of tomatoes, sausage or some kind of pork, garlic and olive oil. So these few things are absolutely necessary. But for our salvation only one thing is necessary, Jesus says. And what is that? To be in communion with Christ, to have a personal relationship with him, to listen to his Word, is the most important point of our life. That is the one thing necessary. To cook a meal you need a bunch of things, but to have eternal life, only one thing is crucial: to be in relation with Christ.
Martha and Mary present two good ways to serve the Lord. One is active and the other is contemplative. We need both in the Church. But Jesus is saying that Mary’s way is superior. Why is that? It will be something that is never taken from her. Martha at some point will not be able to serve due to her age or ability to move around or death. Mary will always be able to sit at the feet of Christ.
Even if our way of living is more active we ought not to get to the point where serving and working does not allow us time or energy to be with Christ. Watching television or Netflix doesn’t help us to rest, or to develop as a disciple. There is only one thing that is important: to be with Christ.
The contrast between the two sisters is great: Martha tells Jesus to say to Mary. On the other hand, Mary only listens to what Jesus wants to say to her. Don’t we all act like Martha in this sense? God do this for me, change that, help me with that. But Mary only sits and listens.
Romano Guardini spent most of his life in Germany, despite his name, and had a big influence of Pope Benedict XVI. He has a wonderful, small book on prayer and mentions a few points that might help us. He is writing in the 1950s and notices that many people then are very restless; what would he say about 2019?
As soon as people go to pray they remember that they have to make a call, or get their laundry done, or who knows what. But a Christian ought to have the attitude that nothing concerns me now more than spending these five or ten minutes of prayer. This is the only thing I need to do now; everything else can wait.
Prayer helps us to “be present.” Many today always have that urge to be somewhere else. There is an inner unrest that drives a person away from “the here and now.” God always calls us in the now, in the moment, to live in today, not tomorrow. When the Archbishop met with the priests when he first came here he did not rush; he was present to each one of them; he didn’t look and see who was next. He was in the “present moment.”
To pray or to be recollected means that one gathers him/herself; she is together, unified, gathered, not flying off in different directions. A Christian has a fixed center, like the hub of a wheel; all the movements are governed by this. To be recollected which fosters prayer helps one to distinguish the important from the unimportant. It helps one to know the difference between the end (goal) and the means. Cleanliness is a means to live with dignity, but it is not the goal of my life. It also helps us to put our experiences in their proper order so that we can say like Moses: “Lord, Here I am.”
Lastly, prayer makes it possible for one “to be awake.” For many as soon as the tension to get a job done leaves they feel listless and without energy. A recollected person or a prayerful person is able to concentrate, to be still, to be inwardly awake. This is our proper state and this puts us in right relation with Christ.
Let us take five minutes each day to sit at the feet of Jesus. Ask him to stop and be with you. Offer him some water, a thank you, a glance in his direction. How do you show him hospitality? Stop a few times a day to make him smile. My mother said yesterday: thanks for getting me to smile. She never said that before. We ought to make God smile at least once a day.