Monday, July 15, 2019

July 21, 2019 - Life in Balance

July 21, 2019  -  Martha and Mary

Reading I:  
Genesis 18:1-10a

Psalm:   15

Reading II:  Colossians 1:24-28

Gospel:  Luke 10:38-42  

This Sunday’s Gospel describes a visit of Jesus with his friends, Martha and Mary. Martha, the perfect hostess, immediately hurries about trying to make Jesus comfortable and feed him.  In the meantime, her sister Mary is sitting with Jesus listening to him and asking him questions.

Martha becomes upset with Mary and asks Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” Jesus responds, “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.”

Was Jesus favoring Mary above Martha at this time? I don’t think so. How could he not appreciate the hospitality of Martha? I think He is trying to tell her that she needs balance in her life. It is so easy to get so caught up in activity, even good works, that the most important things can be neglected.

We are all called to have a close, intimate relationship with our God. That requires communicating with Him on a regular basis. Jesus shows us an example of how to do this, by going off by Himself to pray privately to His Father, despite His busy life.

The story about Martha and Mary reminds me of a visit I had with an elderly relative. He was sitting in the living room, listening to music. In the meantime, his only daughter, who had a large family of her own to care for and was working full-time, was busily cleaning the house. Although he appreciated her taking care of the house since his wife had passed away,  he wistfully confided in me that he wished she would do less cleaning and sit down to listen to music with him for a while.

I also remember the parents of a student of mine who were very active in parish ministries. When they realized that they were not giving enough time to their four children and their own relationship, they decided to withdraw from some of their ministries. They chose to put more balance into their lives for the sake of their family.

I am sure the Lord wants us to help one another, but he also wants us to give quality time to Him. He had to strongly defend Mary’s actions because she was being criticized. However, Jesus wants us to follow the example of both Martha and Mary, and to live a balanced life.

 Reflection Question:   How can I maintain a balanced life? Do I need to change anything?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
La Vida en Equilibrio

El Evangelio de este domingo describe una visita de Jesús con sus amigos, Marta y María. Martha, la anfitriona perfecta, se apresura inmediatamente a tratar de hacer que Jesús se sienta cómodo y lo alimente. Mientras tanto, su hermana María está sentada con Jesús, escuchándole y haciéndole preguntas.

Martha se enoja con María y le pregunta a Jesús: “Señor, ¿no te importa que mi hermana me haya dejado sola para servir? Dile que me ayude”. Jesús responde, “Martha, Martha, estás ansiosa y preocupada por muchas cosas. Hay necesidad de una sola cosa. María ha elegido la mejor parte y no se la quitarán.”

¿Estaba Jesús favoreciendo a María por encima de Marta en este momento? No lo creo. ¿Cómo no podía apreciar la hospitalidad de Martha?  Creo que él está tratando de decirle que ella necesita equilibrio en su vida. Es tan fácil involucrarse tanto en la actividad, incluso en las buenas obras, que se pueden descuidar las cosas más importantes.

Todos estamos llamados a tener una relación cercana e íntima con nuestro Dios. Eso requiere comunicarse con Él regularmente. Jesús nos muestra un ejemplo de cómo hacer esto, yéndose a orar en privado a su Padre, a pesar de su vida ocupada.

La historia sobre Martha y Mary me recuerda una visita que hice con un pariente anciano. Estaba sentado en la sala de estar, escuchando música. Mientras tanto, su única hija, que tenía una gran familia propia a la que atender y trabajaba a tiempo completo, estaba limpiando la casa. Aunque apreciaba que ella se ocupara de la casa desde que falleció su esposa, confió en mí con nostalgia que deseaba que ella hiciera menos limpieza y se sentara a escuchar música con él por un tiempo.

También recuerdo a los padres de un estudiante mío que era muy activo en los ministerios parroquiales. Cuando se dieron cuenta de que no estaban dando suficiente tiempo a sus cuatro hijos y su propia relación, decidieron retirarse de algunos de sus ministerios. Eligieron poner más equilibrio en sus vidas por el bien de su familia.

Estoy seguro de que el Señor quiere que nos ayudemos unos a otros, pero también quiere que le demos tiempo de calidad. Tuvo que defender con firmeza las acciones de Mary porque estaba siendo criticada. Sin embargo, Jesús quiere que sigamos el ejemplo de Marta y María y que vivamos una vida equilibrada.

 Pregunta de Reflexíon:   ¿Cómo puedo mantener una vida equilibrada? ¿Necesito cambiar algo?

Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
St. Katharine wrote to herself, “Am I crowding the Holy Spirit, God, from my mind by 10,000 useless thoughts?? Don’t.” One way of avoiding this “crowding” is to live in the present moment. By focusing on the present moment, we can do what we have to do with complete concentration. Whether we are praying, working, singing or knitting, we can do just that. Staying in the present moment will enable us to balance all the demands on our time. Maybe if Martha had stayed focused on preparing the meal, she would not have been jealous of Mary’s imagined “laziness” while listening to Jesus. One hopes Mary helped with the clean-up after the meal!

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Lately, my “Martha” moments have outpaced my “Mary” time spent alone with the Lord, and I am definitely feeling the disharmony. My mother, who recently celebrated her eighty-ninth birthday, decided it was time to sell her house and move into a retirement community. While I applaud her decision, it has resulted in two months of unprecedented busyness. She has lived in the house for fifty-eight years and has accumulated a lot of “treasures” over those years.  She put a deposit on her dream apartment and signed a promissory note that the balance due on her entrance fee would be paid within ninety days.  I am extremely anxious about that commitment because we do not have the house ready to be put up for sale, and the promised funds will come from the sale of the house. I am trying to move quickly to avoid taking a loan and paying interest, but mom needs to take the time to release her attachment to beloved items. Coupled with her physical limitations, progress is slower than I anticipated.  Regrettably, my stress and fatigue levels have resulted in my missing far too many Morning Prayer times spent in quiet with the Lord. Hitting that snooze button a time or two too many, has resulted in lateness for work as well. I place a very high value on promptness, and these “off times” are definite indicators that I am out of balance. 
I believe that the Lord is sending me reminders to get back on track. A recent Guide Post reflection depicted Jesus as a caretaker, pointing out that the disciples followed him everywhere and depended on Him for everything. There were sick people pulling on his garments asking for healing, and there were other people who came to Jesus seeking healing of others… We get the picture.  Jesus was a very busy guy. However, He performed His ministerial duties perfectly. He was fully present to His teaching, preaching and healing, so much so that He even restored life to the dead.  In spite of all the demands, Jesus used His time perfectly.  Jesus was able to do all those things because He had His priorities in order. God came first, always. Everything else followed. 
I regard that meditation as a message from the Lord reminding me to trust that I will receive the energy I need to accomplish my daily tasks if I am steadfast in my Morning Prayer practice. Like Jesus, I can engage in conversation with the Father anytime during the day asking for what I need, be it patience, perseverance, understanding – anything I find myself lacking. 
So many of us serve as caretakers.  It is easy to be thrown off balance by the demands and frustrations of daily life.  When overwhelm is running the show, we need to pause and remember that God is always present, always caring. Taking the time to pray and talk to God, and to offer up our service as prayer to Him, will help restore us to wholeness and peace and return joy to our spirit. 
I close with one caretaker’s prayer, taken from Guidepost, “Strength and Grace,” June/July 2019 booklet.
“Father, Your Son was a caregiver for all of His life. May He be my example, my hope, and my strength every day.  For Jesus’ sake, I pray.”\

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