The Gospel according to Luke (10:38-42)
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.”
Linda and I were blessed to visit St Francis’ hometown of Assisi some years back as part of a parish pilgrimage to Cascia, the hometown of our parish’s patron saint, St Rita. To this day, it’s still one of my favorite places I have ever visited. St Francis can definitely be said to be the one who chose “the better part”, as Jesus describes in today’s Gospel story. He gave up a life of wealth and comfort to live as a beggar, longing only to serve the poor, and to try to literally rebuild the church of God.
It’s kind of ironic, actually – when Francis heard the voice of God from the cross at San Damiano say “rebuild my church”, he took it literally. He begged for funds to rebuild the physical church in Assisi, and also built the Porziuncola chapel, which became his favorite place, and where he lived his last days. God was actually decrying the state of the Church as a body, not as a physical building. He was asking Francis to rebuild that Church. And, even though Francis may have misunderstood that, in the end, he did rebuild the Church.
The lesson I would like to close with in this reflection concerns the two kinds of service we see in today’s Gospel: service to God by listening to His word, as we see Mary doing, and actively serving others, which is what Martha was doing. Jesus does not say that we should not actively serve others. Rather, He is pointing out that all active service we do has to come from the heart, and especially from a heart of love for others which we build up by listening to and pondering His word to us.
In our days, may we first settle ourselves before God and listen to His word, and then go out and serve in whatever way He may ask us. Who knows? We may be called to help rebuild His church as St Francis was. If we come from the right priority, God will greatly bless all that we do in His name.
Action for the Day:
You’re already doing it, if you’re reading or listening to this reflection – take some time to ponder God’s word, and what it is saying to you today. Then, look for the opportunity to serve, and do it with love!
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