Bishop Eric Menees
Last Sunday’s gospel lesson was taken from the tenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke. This was the account of Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha. You’ll remember that this scripture, taken from verses 38-42, reminds us of Martha’s anxiety at serving Jesus and the disciples, while her sister Mary chose the better portion by choosing to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to his teaching.
The Lord’s timing is always perfect, and given the events of this past week, along with the accompanying anxiety over news of the impending confiscation of our properties, the story of Martha and Mary is timely.
Martha always gets the bad wrap, but who can blame her for being anxious? Jesus and the disciples show up unannounced. First century custom required hospitality to be offered, and she was stuck working all alone, to serve all of those people.
Ultimately, Jesus’ gentle rebuke of Martha, (“Martha, Martha you are anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”), and his praise of Mary, was an act of love — to her and to us.
Like Martha, we all experience anxiety, for a variety of reasons, and we’d be naive to think that Mary didn’t experience the same anxious pull as Martha. Cultural mores are strong, and yet Mary recognizes the opportunity before her, and it outweighs her anxiety. Her actions serve as an example for us in dealing with our own anxiety – from whatever source that anxiety may come.
First, when we start to feel anxious, we need to STOP for a second and ask the question: “What is the source of my anxiety, and is this a matter of life and death?”
Secondly, we need to REST. When we don't slow down - when our anxiety pushes us - we start spinning our wheels, and rather than accomplishing a great deal, we accomplish very little. More importantly, in our anxious activity we start to think that WE have the ability to fix whatever problem lies before us. In this thinking, we lose sight of that fact that it is, in reality, God who is the one who can take care of whatever problem lies before us. When we rest in the Lord, we submit to him with the knowledge that he is sovereign - he is almighty, all powerful, and all knowing. In him, we can trust and rest.
Lastly, we need to LISTEN. While Luke doesn't record what Jesus taught that night, whatever it was, Martha missed out. If we don't stop and listen, there is no telling what we may miss out on. In a world where we have so many voices calling to us for attention, we need to focus on Jesus and his voice!
Ultimately, Jesus wants to free us from the slavery of anxiety by inviting us to stop anxiously working, rest at his feet, and listen to him.
In light of the decision by the Supreme Court, and the process we’ve begun to hand over the confiscated properties, we do well to remember the example of Mary – to Stop, Rest, and Listen.
I pray you all a truly blessed week!
Catechism Questions: 315-317
315. How else is the Seventh Commandment broken?
Fornication, same-gender sexual acts, rape, incest, pedophilia, bestiality, pornography, lust, or any other form of self-centered sexual desire and behavior, all violate this law. (Leviticus 18; Romans 1:18-28; Matthew 5:27-30)
316. What does it mean for you to be chaste?
It means that I must refrain from sexual acts outside of marriage; and I must respect myself and all others in body, mind, and spirit; practice sexual purity; and view others as image bearers of God, not as objects of personal gratification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7)
317. How do you benefit from chastity?
Chastity enables me to give of myself in friendship, avoid difficulty in marriage, and experience the true freedom of integrity before God. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)