Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sermon on Martha and Mary, July 18th

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C. July 18th, 2010.
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42, Martha and Mary.

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.”

As we listen to the proclamation of this Gospel text, we are probably all asking ourselves whether we are a Martha or a Mary. Well, I have some tough news for you…we are all Martha!
Martha is the symbol of the active life, the life in the world. This is the ordinary life, the life which we are all living – myself and all diocesan priests included! Mary is a symbol of the contemplative life, the life removed from the world, the life wholly and entirely consecrated to God through the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In our world, religious monks and nuns are Mary.

We are all Martha’s. We live in the world, we have not taken vows, we are not consecrated religious. But that is nothing to be ashamed of! The active life is a good life, it can be a very holy life, it is a great vocation. Notice that Martha was doing just fine, until she began to reject the vocation of her sister Mary. So too, the active life is good and holy, until it begins to reject or downplay the importance of the contemplative life.
There is a problem in the modern world: we tend to look for external and visible results, “productivity.” We do not see this in the monasteries and convents, and so there is a temptation to think that the contemplative life doesn’t really matter, that it doesn’t add anything to society, that it is a waste. It is as though we say to our Savior, “Tell them [the monks and nuns in the cloister], tell them to help us!” We make Martha’s words our own…and this is our fatal error.

The active life is good, it is holy; but the contemplative life is better. We must develop a love and respect for the contemplative vocation, because this is the life which is most close to the Sacred Heart of our Lord. Precisely because he loves his religious so much, we too love and support them! Perhaps even in our midst there may be some young people here called to that most precious and hidden life of contemplation.
For the rest of us, however, we must remain in the world. It is the good vocation to which God has called us! We must sanctify the world, by sanctifying our daily lives. We have a great task entrusted to us – to make the Kingdom present in the midst of the secular world!
How shall we ever accomplish this good work? It will only be through a deep commitment to the life of prayer. Our love and respect for the contemplative life will lead us to develop a sharing in that hidden life of prayer, even in the midst of our busy days. The heart of any vocation is prayer. The secular world will only be sanctified through prayer. We ourselves will only be saved through prayer.

Having entered into that interior castle, that cloister of the heart, that hidden place within the soul where we enjoy communion with our Creator; we will then be strengthened to go out and to share the riches of the divine life with others.