Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Reflection on the Solemnity of St. Scholastica: Luke 10:38-42

Saint Scholastica, Solemnity – Luke 10:38-42 (transferred from Ash Wednesday)

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Scholastica, the twin sister of St. Benedict.  The Gospel for this feast is the story of Martha and her sister, Mary.  This is a very familiar Gospel to most of us.   Jesus came to visit Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  When he arrived, they all greeted him.  They were thrilled that he had come to be with them. 

In this passage, Luke paints a picture of the differing characteristics between the two sisters.  Clearly, Martha was the practical one.  In her view, hospitality was expressed by preparing a fine meal for Jesus.  Mary, however, was the social sister.  Mary’s natural response to Jesus’ arrival was to invite him to sit down and relax.  Mary believed that if you had a guest in your home, then you should attend to the guest and make him/her feel welcome.  Thus, Mary sat down and began talking with Jesus while Martha was slaving away in the kitchen. 

As time went on, Martha became more and more upset that Mary was not helping her prepare the meal for Jesus.  Clearly, Mary was not concerned about the amount of work that was needed to prepare a good meal for Jesus.  I wonder if Mary sensed that Martha was aggravated that she was not helping her cook the meal.  Did Martha give her a dirty look?  Did Martha say something to Mary when Jesus was not around?  We do not know. However, Luke makes it clear that Martha was upset with Mary.

Finally, Martha had had it!  She goes to Jesus and asks: “Do you not care that I have to do all the work around here?  Mary could be helping me.  However, she just sits at your feet while I do all the work!”  Then Martha adds: “Tell her to help me!”  However, Jesus did not comply with her request.  Rather, he looks at her sadly and says: “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

I wonder if Martha’s heart fell when Jesus spoke these words to her?  Were his words like a knife in her heart?  Was she angry that Jesus did not care about her?  We will never know.  What we can learn from this story of Martha and Mary is that Jesus wants you and me.  Jesus hopes we will sit down and talk with him for hours.  He will focus completely on us if we focus on him.

In our busy, digital world, there is a real danger of losing our personal connections.  We text.  We email.  Even when we are in the same room, each person literally may be in a world of his/her own.  When you sit down to pray, do you silence your phone or your iPad?  Do you truly give yourself to this special time with Jesus?    If we are not mindful, we may lose what is most importance to us: the individuals we love as well and our relationship with Jesus.  Only we can safeguard what is most important to us.

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