By Deacon John Cronin:
The most fruitful activity in life is to receive the Lord.
To receive His true presence.
To be present to Him.
Last week we heard the story of the Good Samaritan,
We were called to love our neighbor with extraordinary hospitality.
With Martha and Mary, we’re called to exercise hospitality again,
But this time in receiving the Lord.
Most of us identify with Martha:
How could Mary leave her to do all that work?!
And what’s with Jesus taking Mary’s side?!
But is He taking sides?
He loves Martha tenderly,
And he gently corrects her,
Not for her busy work to serve Him,
But for accusing Mary of being inhospitable:
She says, “Lord, do you not care
That my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?”
This is not so much a question as it is an accusation.
It reminds me of St. Mark’s account of Jesus’ calming the stormy sea.
Jesus slept in the boat
while the disciples in the boat with him feared the terrible storm.
They woke him with an accusatory tone:
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He rebukes the wind and sea: “Quiet! Be still!”
The rebuke is really of the disciples’ lack of faith in his Saving presence.
The storms of our lives will never be still
if we don’t trust Jesus to steer our boat.
Mary shows that trust, sitting at Jesus’ feet.
She’s hospitable by simply being with him,
Totally present to him.
The most fruitful activity in our lives is to be still;
To be free of distraction,
And receive the Lord’s presence.
To be fully present to him.
Martha’s busy activity for the Lord was good.
But in her work, she left Jesus alone.
Her busy preoccupation made her feel alone.
In her isolated work, she grew anxious and worried.
While all the stuff Martha did was good,
Jesus challenges us to choose the better part of that work:
The gift of self.
To simply be present to Him,
And to any of our loved ones.
Relying on our own work without Jesus is futile.
But activity anchored in Jesus’ presence is very assuring.
If we cling to His Love we will not perish.
One of my earliest memories of my father was when I was about 4 years old.
In the longer days of summer,
He had a routine of taking me for a walk after dinner.
It was only to the end of the street,
But I vividly remember him holding my tiny hand in his.
I remember the joy and security of his presence.
This simple presence mattered,
More than any of the elaborate journeys on vacations
whose distractions competed for his presence.
So I pray that we may be still.
That we Approach Jesus with open ears and open hands.
Receive him with our whole being.
With true hospitality.
In this Mass today, we Receive the Lord.:
We receive his Word,
And his Body in the Bread of Eternal Life.
He gives us the better part: himself.
May we do the same: give of ourselves.
(NOT just our stuff) but ourselves…
To Him, and to one another.
I hope you can call to mind someone who really gave themselves to you,
Who didn’t have to plan an elaborate extravaganza for you,
But who was totally present to you.
Who walked with you on your journey.
Not to the hustle and bustle of exotic destinations,
But simply to the edge of the sidewalk close to home.
Yes, we are called to do good works with our hands,
But if they are truly good –
If they are to bear lasting fruit,
They are attached to the Vine –
– to the loving presence of Jesus Christ.
Our good works are done by the power of His Hands.
Our little hands, held in His.