28 July 2007

You are a serial killer.

17th Sunday OT: Genesis 18.20-32; Colossians 2.12-14; Luke 11.1-13
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Univ. of Dallas

[NB. The strangest homily yet. . .]

Listen here!

We have all been dead…at one time or another, some time long ago, maybe, or just recently, but nonetheless dead for the hour and day of our surrender. We are dead alright, if not permanently so. Misquoting Paul, “And when you were dead in transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, Christ brought you to life along with him, having forgiven you all of your transgressions; obliterating the bond against you, he removed it from your living, nailing it to the cross.” What binds you so tightly to your transgressions that only nails and the cross can remove the binding from you? Who kills you over and over again?

You hear God answer out of the void, “The door is already locked. You pray for a fish and an egg, my child. Here, I give you a snake and a scorpion. . .”

You, right there. . .you are a serial killer. And you are your own fresh victim. The voice telling you to kill yourself with the blade of sin is the voice of merciless distance, of isolation and trial, of desolation and pain; it is the voice that will not call for help, will not cry out in grief or remorse, will not sing out one note of kindness or truth or godly praise. That voice can only repeat conspiracies, gossip, lies, suspicions, temptations, delusions of grandeur and meekness; that voice needles you about the scarcity of God’ love, the meager scrapes tossed at you from the Father’s abundant table. And, finally, that voice—as an icy whisper or a breathless flame—that voice repeats the First Lie, the primitive untruth from the garden’s serpent: “You can become a god without God; you don’t need Him to become Him; so, why not just kill Him off and get on with the business of living humanely, living w/o the One Who claims to have created you?”

Why do you listen to this sibilant voice? Do you need the control of being a serial killer? The predictability of being your own victim over and over again? Maybe you take some perverse pleasure in believing that God, our Father, would say something to you like: “The door is already locked. You pray for a fish and an egg, my child. Here, I give you a snake and a scorpion. . .” But why? What does believing that your Father in Heaven is bent on starving you or perhaps poisoning you, what does believing this lie buy you, spiritually? Does it make you appear special b/c God picks you out to hate, while loving the rest of us boring sheep? Does believing the lie give you permission to violate the Law of Love, the requirements of charity? Or perhaps you have tried to love God, but it all seemed so pointless—all that passion unrequited, wasted on a dead god?

If any of this is true for you or someone you know and love, let me ask you again: what binds you so tightly to your transgressions that only nails and the cross can remove the binding from you? What or who has that kind of power? I would suggest that it is not the traditional atheism of our modernist milieu—few people cling to a truly consistent atheism; it is not a passionate hatred of God—the Psalms are clear: even hatred of God is a kind of obedience, a form of needful listening. If Christ’s answer to his disciples’ request for instruction in prayer is any indication of how our problem is to be understood, then I would have to say that the voice of distance and pain is louder and more insistent for those of us who do not have an intimate relationship with Christ. Bottom-line: the voice of lies and temptations prays just like a good Christian ought, but the voice prays out into nothingness; but then again, so can the Christian—pray vainly, that is—if he or she has no basic relationship with God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. The Patristic theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, clears it up for us very neatly, “Prayer is intimacy with God.”

If intimacy with God is lacking in your spiritual life, then how easy is it for you to believe that He would answer your most solemn prayers with: “The door is already locked. You pray for a fish and an egg, my child. Here, I give you a snake and a scorpion. . .” Without intimacy every answer sounds like cold silence. Anything you might hear sounds like rejection, abuse in echo. Anything you might receive turns rancid, poisonous. Blessings turn to curses. Prayers to scoldings. Sacrifices begin to look like religious parodies. And your whole spiritual life becomes a self-composed theatrical farce complete with cheap costumes, clichéd dialogue, and a director with his time, talent, and treasure focused on something, someone, ANYONE, much, much better and more deserving than you! If there is no intimacy, that is, no honesty, no frank confession, no confidence or caring, no earnest desire for perfection or the trials that come with being perfected; if there is no craving in your body and soul for God’s presence in your life. . .then, God is dead…for you. You remain transgressive and uncircumcised in your flesh.

However, if you want intimacy with God, look to your baptism. You were buried with Christ in baptism and raised with him through the power of the Father. And what you must come to understand, believe, and act upon is the truth that even when you are dead, Christ brings you along with him to share his life with you; to lift you up above sin, above rebellion and despair, forgiving your transgressions, and taking, oh so firmly seizing, the bond of sin against you and nailing it to the cross! That which opposes your health, attacks your peace, rattles your trust; that which whispers rich temptations in your ears and shows your eyes delightful evils; that which cannot bear the loneliness of Its own pride and wants us as submissive pets and playthings, that which wills our destruction is seized and nailed to the wood of the cross.

We can ask Jesus to teach us to pray b/c we can now pray from our fertile hearts. We can call God “Our Father,” b/c He is the Author of our lives. We can take our place as heirs at His table b/c He has adopted us through His Son, Jesus Christ. We are co-workers in the coming Kingdom, partners in creation; He feeds us, forgives our sins as we forgive others, and protect us from the final test of our trust in His mercy. And more: we already have every blessing we will ever receive from God, every goodie, every prayer answered. You have already received. Now ask from your unbounded heart what you need. The door is already there. Knock and it will open. With God, seeking is finding b/c Who we seek most intimately never hides. In pride and fits of spiritual temper, we close our eyes and ears and then claim that He disappears. That is not His voice saying to you: “The door is already locked. You pray for a fish and an egg, my child. Here, I give you a snake and a scorpion. . .” That’s your voice and your words, my voice and my words, trembling and speaking out of a fear of abandonment. God is love and will not abandon us. That is not prophecy; it is promise. But if it is fear you need to push you toward Love, then fear the timeless vacuum, the tolling emptiness of your own voice, praying like a choked cathedral bell for all eternity: ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. ME. . . . .

The Good News? Christ is dead for our sins. He gathered our transgressions and died with them. Paul says that he took the bond against us and “removed it from our living.” He rose from the dead and brought us along. He ascended into heaven and opened the Way for us to follow in our time. Why would we fear? Why would we resist? Don’t! We are held sweetly in the palm of Divine Love Himself. Know and do His truth in this world. Pray for what He has already given you—His name, His home, His kingdom, His will for us, His creation—both heaven & earth, His very being day to day, His forgiveness, His power to forgive, His promise of power over temptation, and our final end: He gives us Himself.

27 July 2007

Love is a kind of knowing...

16th Week OT(F): Exodus 20.1-17 and Matthew 13-18-23
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Univ. of Dallas

Listen here!

I just kept praying that the numbers and letters would start speaking to me, start saying something to me about how they worked or played or lived together…anything, anything at all to help me put a mark in the vast white space next to the algebraic formula: ax2 + bx = c. The Muses were quiet that day. The gods of Math were napping. Even St. Baudhāyana, priest-discoverer of geometric solutions to Pythagorean linear equations and father of the demon algebra that tortured me that day in high school, even he was silent in witness to my despair. Finally, having reached the logical conclusion that prayer would not help me understand nor would crying, complaining, appealing to the charity of my teacher, threatening my health, the health of my teacher, nothing, nothing would help me to grasp the truth of the beauty of algebra, nothing; after these flashes of enlightenment, I surrendered to the problem itself, just gave up; I let the equation have its way with my impatience, my stubbornness, my irrational fear of math, and when I did, the numbers slipped into the letters perfectly, the solution just “fell out” of the equation…and I was saved.

I could see. I could hear. But I did not understand. I had knowledge but no wisdom; I knew, but I did not love. And love is that kind of knowing that makes the Word spoken to our ears and shown to our eyes, open—accessible, useful, complete, and nearly irresistible. I came to understand that perplexing algebraic formula by releasing my hatred of math, my determination to control the outcome; by surrendering my impatience and annoyance with the feeling of stupidity the formula imposed on my over inflated sense of myself as a “smart kid.” Literally, I gave up. And my vision cleared so that I could see the solution and my deafness exploded into sound so that I could hear my teacher talk sense to me. I barely touched Love that day. Just lightly brushed against love in coming to understand algebra. Understanding the Word sown, on the other hand, requires that we soak ourselves in love until we are indistinguishable from it. What else will nourish the seed?

Think about it this way: the Word is tossed to you, sown in your heart for nourishment and growth—what will it find there to take root in, to draw food from, to flourish and bloom out of? In other words, what lives in your cardiac tabernacle? Around what or whom does your physical and spiritual life rotate? Will the Word land hard on a stone of anger and resentment? Will it land on the ever-shifting, never faithful sands of compromise and deceit? Will it land on the mushy, rotting glop of sentimentalism, excessive passion, and intellectual indolence? Or will the seed of the Word find itself sown on rich soil but surrounded by the poisonous thorns of envy, pride, disobedience, dissent, and a lust for violence? The Word might grow in any of these, but the fruit it bears would be ugly, bitter, and very likely deadly.

Only Love can feed the seed of the Word in you what it needs. If the seed lands in your tabernacle and finds there: a boundless hope; an unequaled trust; deeds soaked in mercy; a longing for the blinding beauty of God’s face and a thirst for His goodness and truth; an excitement about witnessing Christ to the world; a passion for justice and peace; if the seed lands in the rich soil of your heart and discovers there this brilliant garden, then your yield for the Kingdom will be thirty, sixty, one hundredfold what it would be otherwise.

You can fight the formula, staring at the blank page for hours, waiting for a miracle, willing an easier, more convenient solution. Or, you can surrender now and find all your blank pages filled with the Word. Hear the parable of the sower: you must be richly prepared to be planted with God’s Word. Soak your soil in love then until you are indistinguishable from Love Himself.

Pic Credit: Melissa Hirsch

26 July 2007

Fat Hearts Cannot See or Hear

SS. Joachim and Anne: Sirach 44.1, 10-15 and Matthew 13.16-17
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Univ. of Dallas

Do you see? Do you hear? Are you blessed in your seeing and hearing? If you see and hear what the prophets and the righteous have longed to see and longed to hear but do not, cannot, then you are blessed! But what is it that blessed eyes and blessed ears see and hear that the prophets and the righteous do not? They see Christ and hear the Word; they know Jesus and love his gospel. To both see and hear Christ Jesus is both to know and to love God and His creatures, both to be and to do the truth, both to desire and be given beauty. Though prophets and the righteous could see and hear, they will not see and hear b/c they are prophetic and righteous. The overshadowing of the soul, the possession of the spirit by the Holy Spirit so that Christ Jesus is revealed, this revelation of power and might is a gift. Never earned. Never merited. Never traded for. Given. Gifted. Graced to us by God the Father so that we might take His blessings and then grow as His prophets, as righteous people who see and hear.

Do you see? Do you hear? Are you blessed in your seeing and hearing?

Jesus tells his disciples that he uses parables to teach b/c of the unwillingness of those in the crowd to see and hear with hearts that understand. He reports that this difficulty fulfills a prophecy of Isaiah: “You shall indeed hear but not understand you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes…” Gross is the heart of this people? Gross? Fat. The Hebrew word here means “fat” and implies all the vices the ancient Jews would attach to being “fat”: dullness, sluggishness, laziness, being overindulged, and lethargic.

A spiritually “fat” heart cannot help the eyes see or the ears hear the perfection of the Lord’s teachings. Why? Such a heart is busy eating the junk calories of our info-tainment nation; scarfing down the greasy morsels of celebrity comedies and relishing the coming of their inevitable tragedies; busy shoveling in piles of factory-made, color-coded, Xeroxed and collated political opinion and its performance in the circuses of broadcast theatre; busy swallowing a Panic Culture bred and birthed so that safety can be sold as salvation and suppressed fear repackaged as security; busy wallowing in a brain-stupor, an intellectual mire induced by injections of freedom w/o truth, liberty w/o responsibility, and rights w/o limits. A fat heart so grossly obesed in the antithesis of Christ’s liberating Word cannot help the eye to see or the ear to hear.

Do you see? Do you hear? Are you blessed in your seeing and hearing?

If you look around you and see the face of God in your neighbors; if you look around and see Christ present to his church; if you listen and hear the Word spoken among your neighbors with clarity and strength; if you listen and hear the witness of the saints, those long gone and those among us still; if you see the beauty of the Blessed Trinity working in your life and the lives of those you know and love; if you hear the voice of God calling you to greater and greater charity—THEN you see with the eyes and hear with the ears of a blessed heart. The alternative is for you to sink uncelebrated into the sewage, the ruins of sin and despair. Your heart, your constant focus on Christ, was given to you at baptism and strengthen in the anointing of confirmation and is exercised in the celebration of the Eucharist. Don’t let it get fat snacking on the debris of our exhausted culture. Keep it strong in prayer, strong by works of mercy, and strong pumping the Word of God through your body! Be the disciple you were made to be: ripped, shined to a buff sheen, and busting at the seams to witness for our Lord.

25 July 2007

Drinking from Jesus' cup

Feast of St. James: 2 Cor 4.7-15 and Matthew 20.20-28
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Albert the Great, Irving, TX

Listen to this homily here!

Living in a democracy founded on the philosophical principles of Enlightenment Europe, I’m not sure we have much experience in this country with our rulers lording their authority over us. At least none of our experiences, if we’ve had them, measure up much, I bet, to the sort of oppressive suffocation of the human spirit I witnessed in communist China in 1990. Every second guarded against suspicion. Every word crafted to fit ideology. It seemed that nothing escaped the black-hole gravity of the state’s need to master its own people, making them servants by birth, accidental slaves to the political and economic jackboots of leftist Fascism and collectivist poverty. Now, I doubt the mother of the sons of Zebedee is hoping that Jesus will give her sons this kind of absolute power. But, like most of modern citizens of the Enlightened world now, she was probably thinking then, “Given the choice: it is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven.” It is better to be the master than the servant. Jesus has a slightly different idea for his church.

Jesus says that the great ones among the Gentile rulers make their authority over their people felt. Then he says, “…it shall not be so among you.” Greatness in the Body will be determined by one’s willingness to be a slave in the service of others. Authority will flow from servanthood not heredity or wealth or connections but from following Christ’s destiny as the final servant of all in his sacrifice on the cross. He says, “[I] did not come to be served but to serve and to give [my] life as a ransom for many.” Paul writes to the Corinthians, “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;…always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus…so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

To carry the dying of Christ is to carry his last act as a slave sent to serve. To manifest in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus is to take on a life of servitude to others. We are to witness as the apostle did—to death, if necessary. We are to stand up and serve even when perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, b/c though we maybe troubled by enemies, we are not driven to despair; we are not abandoned; we are not destroyed. In fact, we serve, we witnesses against persecution and the darkness of sin, “knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and place us […] in his presence.”

In Lumen gentium our bishops teach us that the People of God is one, “…sharing a common dignity as members from their regeneration in Christ, having the same filial grace and the same vocation to perfection; possessing in common one salvation, one hope and one undivided charity…[we] are all 'one' in Christ Jesus…”(n. 32). And one in Christ, we have the same vocation to service in the Body and out, to the Church and to the world, and though the practicalities are different for each according to his or her ministry, the service you render is rendered as Christ for Christ—by you, a member of his body, and in his name.

Sounds good. What’s the catch? No catch, just a question: Jesus asks you, “Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”

Pic credit: Paul Soupiset

23 July 2007

Something Greater Than...

16th Week OY (M): Exodus 14.5-18 and Matthew 12.38-42
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory

Listen to this homily here!

All things have been handed over to Christ by his Father, so there is something greater than Solomon here. There is something greater than the Temple here. There are many things to be worried and anxious about, but there is need of only one thing. Mary, Martha’s sister, chooses it as the better part, knowing that whoever does not take up his or her cross and follow after Jesus is not worthy of him. Those least worthy of him, the evil and unfaithful generations that seek after signs, some wizardly proof from Jesus that he is who he says he is, these obstinate hearts claw at him for spectacular verification; despite their desperation, the only sign that these generations will receive is the sign that Nineveh received in Jonah: the death and resurrection of a prophet of God in three days. Truly, there is something greater than Jonah here!

If the Pharisees and scribes were sincere in their desire to see a sign of Jesus’ credentials as the Messiah, we might be a little more sympathetic to their skepticism. I mean, if they were truly, at the heart of doubt, fighting to say YES to God’s self-revelation in Christ Jesus, we might argue, “Come on, Jesus: just one little miracle, one small healing to boost them on over the top of fear.” But Jesus’ own description of these guys—“an evil and unfaithful generation”—pretty much tells us that their motivation for seeking after signs is rotten. They do not seek a sign to doubt-proof a firm faith. They are seeking a logical sign, a political sign, some indication from Christ that it is safe either to join up with him or dangerous even to be seen near him. They are calculating their trust, running their faith through the numbers, trying to weight the odds and waiting for the argument to slant in favor of or against belief.

Seeing these gamblers’ machinations, Jesus says to them, “You had Solomon, the Temple, Jonah and Nineveh. And now, you have something greater than Solomon’s wisdom; greater than the Temple’s access to God; greater than the clarity of Jonah’s sign, and the witness of the Ninevites’ repentance b/c of him, and still you harass me for a sign!” Evil. Unfaithful. If you roll dice to trust God, expect the odds to be against you…always. Why? B/c trusting God is never about probabilities; it is always about possibilities and more than just “what if’s,” it is about His promises—not lab experiments, not geometric proofs or formulas, not even good ole Reason with all of her properly graced power to reveal and to convince. There is something here greater than all of these!

Jesus says that the people of Nineveh heard Jonah’s preaching and repented. He says that Queen Sheba traveled “from the ends of the earth” to witness first-hand Solomon’s wisdom. And he says that the “men of Nineveh” and “the queen of the south” will “arise with this generation and condemn it” b/c they are calculating the odds of trusting the only sign they need of God’s promise to save them: Jesus Christ. If we could put words to Jesus’ frustration, he might ask: “How can anyone so misunderstand what faith means to us and requires of us?” I wonder. . .

How do you calculate your faith? Weigh the odds? How do you covertly test God to see if He’s paying attention to you? What conditions have you placed on loving your brothers and sisters in Christ? Are you seeking after, waiting around for some greater sign than Christ himself: a weeping statute, a rosary turned to gold, maybe an appearance by Mary on the side of barn? Or maybe you wait for the trendiest philosophers of religion to tell you it is now fashionable again to believe. Fides ex auditu! Believe because you have heard. Heard the witness. Heard the Word spoken and heard the Word speak. Don’t gamble on signs! Invest in mutual affection and trust: when you hear his voice, soften your heart and welcome in his saving wisdom.

Image credit: Probability

22 July 2007

Fire all the Martha's!

16th Sunday OT: Genesis 18.1-10; Colossians 1.24-28; Luke 10.38-42
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Paul
’s Hospital, Dallas, TX

Listen to this homily here!

I don’t want to point fingers! You all know this already, of course: there are Martha’s among us and Mary’s. You’ve heard this homily a hundred times: in the church there are workers and contemplatives. Those busy about many things and those who sit at the feet of the Lord. Workers in the church get short shifted b/c Jesus holds Mary up as the example of correct attitude and behavior. What does it mean to be a Martha and what does it mean to be a Mary? To be a Martha one must be either industrious and responsible OR anxious and controlling. To be a Mary one must be either humble and dedicated OR lazy and inhospitable. So, we are usually told, we should choose which “model of service” we want to imitate: the Martha model or the Mary model. Here’s a hint about the conclusion of that tried and true homily: we are called upon to be both b/c the Church needs both her Martha’s and her Mary’s to survive and flourish. Everyone is happy that his or her favorite sister is still safe and no one barks at the preacher on the way out the door for picking one sister over the other. Well, sorry, folks but this preacher is taking sides!

When I want to learn something, I first think to teach it to someone else. I really don’t mind the messy work of jumping into an intellectual project w/o a perfectly clear plan of attack. We don’t have to know every text, every authority, every footnote. Living is mostly about introductions, anyway: pieces, snapshots, collections. To make sense of all of our snapshots in the album, we will look to all sorts of larger stories, bigger introductions, trying to fit My Story into The Story, so that My Story doesn’t end up as a knock-knock joke or sidewalk graffiti or a mumbled curse against fate. But if we are smart, we will sit at the feet of the Teacher who is himself the Big Story, the Grand Script, and let him coach us through our ignorance, our rebellion, and pride.

There’s one small gift we must bring to The Teacher in order to be properly taught. We must bring the bright red apple of humility! To be taught is to be changed, converted, turned around and upside down, made new. Can you feel the tingling of anxiety! Change?! Made new?! The dark fingers of worry are closing into a fist. Humility is kept caged by worry and anxious need. You cannot submit yourself to the Teacher for proper instruction if you will not unclench that fretting fist, those busy, busy, busy fingers that seem to believe that hard work earns salvation. Why does Jesus say to Martha that Mary has chosen the better way? B/c Mary is lazy and wants to avoid work? No. B/c Martha is trapped in an oppressive gender role that makes her a servant to men? No. Jesus says to Martha that Mary has chosen the better path b/c she, Martha, is “anxious and worried about many things.” Martha, where is your humility, sister?!

Let’s ask Martha another question: “Martha, does your worrying about many things proclaim the Christ in you? Are you presenting yourself as perfect in Christ when you vibrate around the room throwing off angst like clothes set on fire?” Martha might answer, “I am showing our Lord honor by serving him. And Mary is lazing about his feet doing nothing!” So, maybe the question we need to ask here is: what is it to serve the Lord and how is that service an honor to him? Martha argues that being up and moving, doing something productive, serves the Lord. Manual labor honors the Lord b/c it shows a willingness to work for his sake. Mary seems to be arguing that sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to him teach, serves him. And he is honored best by allowing him to serve her as her Teacher. The Lord says to all this, “Mary has chosen the better part…” Yes, she has.

Beyond the Martha/Mary contest, do we find this idea of honoring Jesus by allowing him to serve us and then serving others in his name, do we find this idea anywhere else in scripture? Yes, of course. Conveniently enough, right here in today’s reading from Colossians! Paul writes to the Colossians, “Brothers and sisters: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church…” Paul is teaching us here that he is taking on, in his own person, the sufferings of the Church, the pains and trials that Christ’s Body still suffers, and that he makes this sacrifice gladly so that Christ’s Body, the Church, doesn’t have to suffer unduly. Paul eagerly shares in the sufferings of Christ through grace, thus, allowing Christ to serve him personally. This shows Christ great honor. Paul then removes these sufferings from the Church, thus serving the members of the Body, and honoring, once again, the person of Christ. If we, the Church, pay careful attention to Paul’s suffering for us, we see a Great Lesson taught by a Great Teacher: the mystery once hidden from the ages is now revealed to us. How is the Word of God completed for us? That’s the mystery. Paul answers, “…it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.” God’s Word is completed for us as Christ in us!

How do Paul and Mary manage to teach us all of this? Through humility. Paul eagerly accepts the Church’s sufferings into his own body and Mary submits herself to instruction in a subject normally forbidden to Jewish women. Both submit themselves to the Word—to listen to the Word, to be instructed by the Word, and to go out and do the Word once sent. And in submitting to the Word, each takes on the Word and speaks with the power of Truth that is Christ Jesus. Essentially, each becomes the Word they teach and each lives out a life totally dependent on God, acknowledging with breath and hands and feet their absolute reliance on the Father for absolutely everything they need. They can teach us about God with the clarity of one who looks to God for his very existence. This is not the clarity of calculated logic, or computer science, or astrophysics. It is the kind of clarity that sharpens in trust our first commitment to love. And calls us back over and over again to the promise we made to honor God by preaching His Word with vigor and vim.

Paul and Mary have made the better parts of sacrifice for us. Paul suffers. Mary contemplates. Paul evangelizes and Mary exemplifies. Both show us how to make the Big Story of Christ’s life, the smaller story of our own lives; how to take that Grand Script of Jesus and compress it into our own dramas, comedies, and tragedies and find eternal life among the pages remaining.

Martha didn’t choose a bad part when she choose to honor the Lord by serving him a meal. It’s just that Mary chose the better part when she chose to honor him by allowing him to serve her as her teacher! So, this means then the Church doesn’t need workers like Martha? That’s precisely what it means! The Church needs workers but not workers who are “anxious and worried about many things.” Jesus is not criticizing Martha for her work in his honor but for the fretting about that is driving her to despair and jealousy. Who, between the sisters, is being inhospitable? Mary who is seeking wisdom at our Lord’s feet? Or Martha who’s nagging at him about a sisterly fuss? Mary has chosen the better part.

If you will learn from the Teacher of the Ages, you must: unclench your jaw; free your heart and mind from worry; unwring your hands, settle your voice, soothe over the turmoil of second-guessing and what-if’ing; reach deeply for the flower of humility, that small bloom of total dependency on God you hide so well; and, sit down! Sit at the feet of the Word and listen. Listen! B/c what you hear and what you do once you have heard will not be taken from you.

Pic Credit: Matthew Jacobs: PANIC