Today’s readings seem to take us along different paths: from Paul’s path that led from persecuting the Church of God to “now preaching the faith he tried to destroy” to Martha and Mary. But both paths are leading to the same direction.
The vivid words of the Gospel make Martha and Mary come to life. I can imagine Martha, banging pans and bowls and harrumphing under her breath in the kitchen. (OK, maybe that’s how I feel sometimes.) And then there’s Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to him speak. I can see Martha, finally coming out of the kitchen, wiping her hands on a towel and asking Jesus to make Mary help her. He tells Martha that she worries about many things, while Mary has focused on what’s important.
I remember hearing this as a child and feeling sympathy for Martha. Wasn’t she doing what she was supposed to be doing? But I can see now that Martha’s harrumphing and pointed looks are keeping her closed off. You have to open yourself to God. It’s more important than the daily to-do list that only seems to get longer. By being Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him speak, I can really hear without the static of the worries. By opening myself to God, I can focus on what’s important. And that focus will remain with me throughout the rest of the day. I can still get most of those things on the to-do list done and I can do them with a light heart.
Today is also the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Web page quotes Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae: “The Rosary is also a path of proclamation and increasing knowledge, in which the mystery of Christ is presented again and again at different levels of the Christian experience.”
It seems to me that’s the very essence of why the rosary remains so loved and cherished. The act of holding the beads and the repetition of the much-loved prayers are contemplative. The rosary is just as powerful for the second-grader, clutching the bright-colored rosary of big beads and concentrating to remember which beads are for which prayers as it is for the lovely old woman, her head bowed in prayer in a hushed corner of the church, her fingers slipping over beads well polished by years of asking for blessings, praying for those who’ve gone before or praying in thanksgiving.
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