Posted: 20 Jul 2013 06:00 AM PDT
Today’s Gospel Text: Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42
Reflection: The discussion on service and prayer, i.e. sitting at the Lord’s feet, has not only been an issue for debate but has also been an issue for reflection and understanding the truth behind the Lord’s demand.
We by nature are inclined to serve rather than pray. In other words praying doesn’t come easily.
Even if we talk about a balancing of the two acts, yet it is towards service that we are inclined to rather than pray.
In other words even if we were men and women of prayer, yet we would prefer to spend more time in service rather than prayer- alas for the balance we talk about vis-à-vis prayer!
But this discussion or debate between prayer and service can be a misnomer, if we do not understand the nature and essence of prayer and why Jesus insists that it is better portion that Mary had opted for.
Prayer and service are not in dialectical opposition to each other, they are one and the same thing; they are both services we are called to render in life, separated for the sake of discussion and understanding the depth thereof.
As a service, prayer is a far greater service than any other service that we as humans can think about or shall we assert that it is the only service that is required of humans.
Therefore Jesus had to rebuke Martha and if his words were paraphrased then it would appear thus: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one SERVICE is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
We too, like Martha, could be doing many a service to many a people and may be even lauded by others and by those in authority, even by those who take the place of Jesus but it can never substitute prayer.
Prayer is a service which serves both God and man. Or put more succinctly; through prayer we participate in God’s work of renewing creation, including humans.
We thus are making a choice to be instruments of God; an instrument in which God has to do his work of purification and bring about a transformation first. Then only can we become his instruments.
If not then we in our service begin to take God’s rightful place and like Martha we put ourselves in his place and are thus anxious and troubled about many things.
Only God has the right to be anxious and troubled about the many things because he alone can bring about the right change in our society and his gospel is a powerful instrument to bring about that change.
Prayer: Lord, I pray that I may do all things in union with thee and after having been transformed by your word through prayer.
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