OCTOBER 5. Ord Time B. Wk 27. Tue. Lk 10. 38-42
Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’
This Gospel reading is often used to indicate two different facets of the Christian life; - the active life and the contemplative life; - Martha being the model of those who embrace the active life, while Mary is seen as representing the contemplatives.
I prefer to see it as indicating two components of every Christian life; - as no matter where or how we live our life, each and every one of us needs to embrace both the active life and contemplative component of the spiritual life.
It is not possible to be a contemplative without active involvement with those around us, just as it is not possible to live an active Christian life without making a genuine commitment to withdrawing from our duties and giving time to prayer.
In this Gospel Jesus does indicate the contemplative vocation is “the better part” but that is obvious, as Prayer is the primary means by which we enter into an intimate relationship with our creator, but a word of caution is needed here because “the better part” is only applicable if one’s prayer; - and prayer time; - is in accord with one’s individual duties and vocation.
A married person, for example, could decide to “give my life to prayer” and use that decision as a justification for not fulfilling one’s duties towards children or spouse. In such a case the focus on prayer could well become an act of selfishness; - and harmful to one’s spiritual life.
One feature of this Gospel is that Jesus made it clear he did not wish to interfere with Mary giving him her time and attention; - and there is a valuable lesson here that we can look to ourselves when at prayer; - Is this what Jesus wants from me at this particular time, or is it clear to me that he wants me to be fulfilling other duties?
And it is the same with people who are very active, as for many “being active” can become an escape from giving a period of quiet time to prayer and recollection.
All baptised people are called to lead an integrated life; - in which a personal relationship with God is merged harmoniously with their responsibilities; - and it is this integration that Christ is teaching today; - mindful it is easy for someone leading a Christian life to do so in an unbalanced and even harmful way.
In this regard Jesus makes a very relevant comment; - “Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one,” highlighting the fact we can give too much of our time to our desires, concerns, and worries; - matters that distract us from giving our mind and heart to God!
In contrast, Mary abandoned all her earthly and worldly concerns and focused instead on the “one thing” necessary; - loving Jesus Christ; - the Son of God; - who was an intimate friend!
Gospel Acclamation Lk11:28
Blessed are they who hear the word of God
and keep it.
First reading Jonah 3:1-10 · The Ninevites repent, and God spares them
The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach to them as I told you to.’ Jonah set out and went to Nineveh in obedience to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was a city great beyond compare: it took three days to cross it. Jonah went on into the city, making a day’s journey. He preached in these words, ‘Only forty days more and Nineveh is going to be destroyed.’ And the people of Nineveh believed in God; they proclaimed a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least. The news reached the king of Nineveh, who rose from his throne, took off his robe, put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes. A proclamation was then promulgated throughout Nineveh, by decree of the king and his ministers, as follows: ‘Men and beasts, herds and flocks, are to taste nothing; they must not eat, they must not drink water. All are to put on sackcloth and call on God with all their might; and let everyone renounce his evil behaviour and the wicked things he has done. Who knows if God will not change his mind and relent, if he will not renounce his burning wrath, so that we do not perish?’ God saw their efforts to renounce their evil behaviour, and God relented: he did not inflict on them the disaster which he had threatened.