Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, July 29, 2017 — “We will do everything that the LORD has told us.” — “Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”

Memorial of Saint Martha
Lectionary: 400/607

Image result for Moses, art

Moses by Joseph Dawley

Reading 1 EX 24:3-8

When Moses came to the people
and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD,
they all answered with one voice,
“We will do everything that the LORD has told us.”
Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD and,
rising early the next day,
he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar
and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.
Then, having sent certain young men of the children of Israel
to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice young bulls
as peace offerings to the LORD,
Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls;
the other half he splashed on the altar.
Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people,
who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.”
Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying,
“This is the blood of the covenant
that the LORD has made with you
in accordance with all these words of his.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 50:1B-2, 5-6, 14-15

R. (14a) Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
“Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.”
And the heavens proclaim his justice;
for God himself is the judge.
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.
“Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me.”
R. Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.

Alleluia JN 8:12

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Image result for Jesus and Martha, art

Jesus with Martha and Mary

Gospel  JN 11:19-27

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died].
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

Or LK 10:38-42

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

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Related:

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

For Saturday, July 29, 2017

St Martha

THE SPRING AND THE STREAM

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 JN 4:7-16LK 10:38-42]

The story of Mary and Martha has often been portrayed as a choice between contemplation and action. Mary seems to have chosen the way of contemplation whereas Martha chose the way of action.  But in truth, we know that contemplation and action are not mutually exclusive.  On the contrary, they are in fact complementary.  Indeed, for most of us today, we are called to be contemplatives in action.

That is to say, we are called to be first and foremost contemplatives so that we might be authentic activists for the Lord.  The truth is that the needs of the world cannot be addressed by us unless we are transformed by the Lord first.  For this reason, Mary spent time with the Lord at His feet, listening to Him.  It was not that Mary was unconcerned with the need to practise hospitality.  On the contrary, Mary gave Jesus the highest degree of hospitality by giving Him her whole attention.  After all, what is the meaning of hospitality if not to make a person feel at home and welcomed.  And this, Mary gave to Jesus just by listening to Him.  Indeed, to spend time with another person is to accord that person the highest level of hospitality that can be given.

This was not the case for Martha.  She did not know Jesus as well as Mary did.  She thought that the best way to attend to Jesus was to attend to His needs rather than to attend to Him.  And because she did not have an intimate relationship with Jesus, she became anxious, upset and competitive.  Her complaints to Jesus about Mary were signs of insecurity in her.  She was actually jealous of Mary that she seemed to enjoy a closer relationship with Jesus than her.  Hence, she wanted Jesus to know that she was more caring than Mary.  Not only that, she condemned Mary for not giving hospitality the way she did.  Inevitably, a person who lacks a relationship with another will try to substitute it with things and actions.  Martha as an activist, was insecure and restless because her works were not founded in a deep relationship with Jesus.  Instead of spending time with the Lord, she wanted to impress Jesus by doing things for Him rather than allowing Jesus to impress her.

Yes, between action and contemplation, the latter must come first.  Thomas Merton in his book “contemplatives in action” illustrates this beautifully when he wrote of the “spring and the stream.”  According to him, unless the waters of the spring are living and flow outwards, it remains but a stagnant pool.  If the stream is disconnected with the spring which is its source, then the stream would dry up.

Contemplation then, is the spring of living water, and the stream that flows out to others is the action that we perform. If action does not flow from an interior source in prayer, it becomes barren, competitive, selfish and anxious.  However if prayer does not flow into action, it is cut off from life.  That is why in the case of Mary, she was unmoved by what Martha said.  She did not retaliate or react.  She knew what was really important then, and she continued to be at the Lord’s feet.

Let us learn from Mary to be more courageous in spending time with the Lord.  It may seem to be a real waste of precious time which can be used for doing more things for the Lord.  Yet, what truly pleases God is not what we do but who we are.  And who we are as God meant us to be, can happen only when we open our hearts fully to Him so that He can transform us from within through the power of His love.  And when transformed, then the love of Jesus will flow out from us to others, doing what our Lord did for others.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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http://www.catholic.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Commentary on Luke 10:38-42 From Living Space

Today we find Jesus in the home of the sisters, Mary and Martha. We know that they have a brother named Lazarus. We meet the sisters again, showing the same characteristics as in this story, in John’s account of the raising from death of their brother (John 11:1-44). They lived in Bethany, a village about 3-4 km from Jerusalem and it seems that Jesus was a familiar visitor to the house for at the time of Lazarus’ illness Jesus is told: “Your friendLazarus is sick.”

The story of Martha and Mary is, in a way, a contrast to the previous story about the Good Samaritan. It restores a balance in our following of Christ. The story about being a neighbour could lead us to think that only if we aredoing things are we loving God.

Martha was a doer to the point of being a fusspot. Martha, we are told, was “burdened with much serving”. Serving is something that Jesus himself did constantly and he urged his followers to do the same. But it should not be a burden. And, after Martha had complained about her sister, Jesus told her that she was “anxious and worried about many things”. A true servant does not experience anxiety and worry. It signifies a lack of peace.

Because Mary seemed to be doing nothing, Martha saw her as idling and even selfish. Martha must have been somewhat surprised when Jesus said that Mary had “chosen the better part” which would “not be taken from her”.

What was that better part? Was Mary just sitting at the feet of Jesus and doing nothing? No. We are told that she was “listening to him speak”. Listening to his message is something Jesus tells his disciples and the crowd they need to be doing all the time. And we have mentioned before that listening involves understanding, accepting and assimilating that message so that it becomes part of our very selves

If we do not spend time listening to him, how can we know that our activity is properly directed? It is easy for us Christians to be very busy but are we busy about the right things?

To answer that question we have to stop to listen, to discern and to pray. And, ultimately, the highest form of activity in our lives is contemplation, being in conscious contact with God and his Word. If I find myself saying that I do not have time to give some time to prayer or contemplation each day, then there is a serious imbalance in my priorities and in my understanding of what it means to love and serve my God.

This story blends nicely with the parable of the Good Samaritan which went before it. Taken together they express what should be the essence of Christian living – action for others that is guided by what we learn in contemplation. This was the pattern of Jesus’ own life – he spent long hours bringing healing to people’s lives (being a neighbour) but also retired to quiet places to be alone in communion with his Father. The same pattern must be ours too. We call it being “contemplatives in action”.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2273g/

 

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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29 JULY 2016, Friday, St Martha
PRAYER AND INTIMACY WITH THE LORD GIVES JOY TO MINISTRY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  1JN4, 7-16; LK 10:38-42 (Alt JN 11:19-27)  ]We tend to pit Mary against Martha as if one is better than the other.  This is because of what Jesus said about Mary, that she “has chosen the better part” and “it is not to be taken from her.”  In truth, we have to take the whole episode in perspective.  The gospel text is not teaching us that it is a greater thing to be a contemplative than an activist.  There can be no real opposition between these two.  Both are necessary in Christian life and are meant for the service of the Church and the mission of Christ.  Rather, the issue lies in the question of priority.

The mistake of Martha is not because she was active in serving Jesus.  Practising hospitality is a manifestation of love and concern.  Indeed, in the Church, we need people who are committed to service.  Giving ourselves to the service of the Church and the Christian community is an expression of our love for God.  However, this is not always the case.  Even though one might apparently be very much engaged in the service of God, we cannot always be sure or claim that it is a manifestation of our love for God.

So what is the sign that although we are doing the work of God, we are no longer working for God but for other less noble reasons?  When we become restless and agitated!  Restlessness and anxiety are signs that we are more concerned with our ego, our desire to please and earn the recognition and appreciation of our fellowmen than the desire to serve God.  In other words, we are seeking attention and self-esteem.  This was the case of Martha.  Jesus gently chided her not because it was wrong that she was busy preparing and making Him comfortable.  Nay, it was because she “was distracted with all the serving.”  She no longer experienced the joy of service.  That she subtly began to seek for Jesus’ attention and appreciation was demonstrated in her cry to the Lord saying, “Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself?  Please tell her to help me.”

Indeed, when we begin to fret and worry, we are no longer serving the Lord but we have become more anxious about our achievements.  Our focus is no longer on the Lord nor even the people we serve but on ourselves, our performance and the impression we make on others.  As a result, we become irritable, insecure, jealous and restless.  For Martha, her fear of rejection even led her to complain about Mary in order to boost her status before the Lord.  In complaining about Mary, Martha was implying to Jesus that she was a better person than Mary.  When a person becomes fearful and insecure, he or she would even belittle others in order to boost his or her ego.  Such service that results from self love of course could not bring Martha joy.  She became a slave to her pride and fears.

We, too, often fall into such situations as well.  As priests, we are often worried about what others think of us when we preach or when we assume an office.  We are worried about the projects that we have started.  We become ambitious and tend to compare ourselves with others.  When we feel that others are doing better than us, we then become jealous and envious.  This is true for people involved in so-called works of humanitarianism.  Apparently, they are serving the world by their voluntary service.  Yet, quite often, such involvement in community service is rendered in a condescending manner.   It is given in such a way that the giver seems to be greater than the recipient.  We serve or give out of pity rather than empathy and compassion.

What is the root of the problem?  It is because our ministry is not grounded in love.  We are not capable of love.  This is a reality we must first come to realize.  We are not able to love as we should.  Our love is conditional and not selfless even if we want to love selflessly.  Within this context, 1Jn4:7 provides the key to authentic service.  St John wrote, “My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love.”

Consequently, the only way to heal us of our brokenness and insecurity and negative image of self is by giving ourselves to Jesus who alone can heal us with his unconditional love. Indeed, John said, “God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him: this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.”

Truly, unless we have been loved by God, we cannot love unconditionally.  If not, we become irritable.  Only when we experience His love, can we share in His Spirit of love as well.  God’s love is prior to our love for others.  This is what St John is reminding us.  “My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. God will live in us and his love will be complete in us. We can know that we are living in him and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit.”  He added, “We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.”

But how can we experience God’s love if not in prayer?  Hence, primacy must be given to prayer and a deep relationship with Jesus, which brings love.  Indeed, the gospel tells us that Jesus comes to serve and not to be served.  Before we can serve others, we must allow Jesus to serve us first.  That is what Jesus says in the parable about the faithful servant, for when the master returns, he will put on the apron to serve them.  This explains why “It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.”  Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to the teaching of Jesus.  Being loved by Jesus is primary.  Service and ministry flows from the love of God in us.  Sharing in His Spirit, we are empowered to love in return. Work and ministry is only the expression of love.

What should give us joy is not so much our ministry.  Rather it is our union with God and because of our union with Him, we want to express this union by loving our fellowmen.  So it is immaterial how we serve so long as whatever we do is the sharing of God’s love.

Indeed St Augustine asks what will happen when we reach the end of our pilgrimage when there is no longer any work.  As we grow older, whether we are priests or grandparents, a time will come when we can no longer work.  Does it mean that our lives will be spent in misery because we cannot serve anymore?  Surely not!  When the time comes we will simply spend the rest of our lives in solitude contemplating on the wonders of God’s love for us and His presence.  Knowing that God is with us and that He is our all will give us more joy than all worldly enjoyments.  So, like those who retire gracefully and are no longer mobile, our joy then would be to busk in the presence of God and His love.

Today, we take courage and inspiration from St John’s gospel that God is patient with us.  He allows us to grow in faith as He did for Martha.  From an impatient person, she became a woman of faith.  Although it is true that when we meet her later in St John’s gospel, she is still the active person, for she was the one who ran out to meet Jesus, but instead of complaining that Jesus was late, she placed her faith in Jesus saying, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.”  Not only did she confess her faith in the resurrection but she also confessed her faith in Christ, saying, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who has come into this world.”  Indeed, she learnt to surrender herself to Jesus.  Instead of wanting things her way, she surrendered to the Lord.  By professing her faith in the resurrection in Christ, she is saying in love, life does not come to an end.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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http://www.catholic.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/
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Bishop Goh’s reflection reminded me of this little gem of a book:
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Image may contain: one or more people and text
“Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence” by J.P. Caussade
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One Response to “Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, July 29, 2017 — “We will do everything that the LORD has told us.” — “Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.””

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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