The One Thing Necessary
We have another familiar Gospel this week – the story of Martha and Mary. Mary sits at Our Lord’s feet while Martha is running around being busy. This is often interpreted as a call for a proper balance between prayer and work – the Church needs Marthas and Marys. But this seems to miss the point. At the end of the passage, Our Lord doesn’t say to Martha, “You do your thing and let Mary do hers.” Rather He says, “Only one thing is needed and Mary has chosen the better part.” In other words, prayer must be an absolute priority.
People sometimes say, “I work hard, I don’t harm anyone, I’m a good person, but I don’t pray.” But Our Lord never said, “Work always”, but He did say, “Pray always.”
This Gospel gives us a good portrait of prayer. It isn’t where we do all the talking – we also have to listen. It’s like a conversation. Just as Mary sat at Our Lord’s feet listening to Him, we have to learn to do the same. Lectio divina can be a good way of doing this, where we read a text of Scripture slowly and ponder it. Then listen to what the Lord may be whispering to us. What does your conscience tell you? God often speaks to us through our conscience. Or if you get a good idea, don’t run off and do it immediately. First ask God what He thinks about it. Sometimes we tend to rush into things and then blame God when it goes wrong. Maybe He didn’t want you to do it in the first place?
A steady number of people come to Adoration on a Saturday morning between 10 and 11am, but it would be encouraging to see more. Time spent in prayer is never wasted. Even if you get distracted or bored, God’s grace is still working in you. Committing to a short regular time of Adoration can change your life. The church is open most of the day. In the four years I’ve been here, many (some of whom are not even Catholic) have told me how prayer in St Mary’s before the tabernacle gives them peace of soul. Temptations become easier to resist and there are many other blessings besides. Just as you can’t be exposed to the sun without receiving its rays, neither can you come to JESUS exposed in the Blessed Sacrament without receiving the divine rays of His grace, His love and His peace. Make this a priority in your life. Come to Adoration. Venite adoremus!
Fr Paul Gillham, IC