Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“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.”
In the spiritual life, people often characterize themselves as being a “Martha” or a “Mary”. “Marthas” are those people who are always busy doing things, anxious about many things. And often these are good and noble things – like making sure someone feels welcome in your home, cleaning the house, doing administration, organizing your family life, etc. I would venture to say that our culture encourages “Marthas” because we are all about results, action and production. We can measure production and we get our self-worth by what we produce.
“Marys” are those who take time to sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer and contemplation. Jesus praises Mary for choosing the better part. She takes time to listen to the Lord and soak in His love, His teaching, His mercy, His joy… I truly admire the people in my life whose burning desire is to find quiet time with the Lord in prayer. They have such peace. But it takes a deep love of the Lord and discipline to nurture the “Mary” within us.
Often some of the most effective “active” begin their days with prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Mother Theresa and her sisters begin their day with quiet prayer. I have heard that Pope Francis does two different Holy Hours each day (that is not confirmed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were true). The Lord is the One who does the work; we only become His instruments if we allow Him to work through us.
Why do we shy away from prayer? I remember when I first started going to Church to pray in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid of silence, which I believe is true for many people today. What happens in the silence? We come face to face with the Lord and ourselves – and that frightens us! We can’t avoid the Lord in the silence. We can’t get away from ourselves in the silence.
St. Ignatius says that in the silence, whatever is hidden deep within us is raised to the surface and is enhanced. In other words, if we are experiencing joy deep within, spending time in prayer is going to enhance that joy in the Lord. However, if we are angry or sad, these feelings get raised to the surface as well. But they are not just brought to the surface for no reason. The Lord raises them to the surface so that we can find healing. Hiding our desires, thoughts and feelings from the Lord does no one any good. These desires, thoughts and feelings are given to us because the Lord is trying to show us something very important.
Do you trust the Lord enough to bring Him anything in prayer? Do you have a best friend that you run to when you have something important to share – good or bad? Jesus wants to be your best friend – in good times and in bad. Do you keep busy so that you can avoid the silence? Does busyness allow you to avoid the troubling feelings in your heart? Do you avoid the silence because you are being judged on production and no one is measuring your prayer time?
The Lord invites you to the silence today. He says, “Come sit at my feet and listen. Just be in my presence today and allow me to love you and heal you. Allow me to double your joy. Allow me to lessen your burden. Come to me, all you who are weary, and I will give you rest.”
Have a blessed day!