Holy Family

Holy Family

Friday, July 29, 2011

Feast of Saint Martha

Good morning. Jesus is coming! Mary and Martha are just giddy with excitement. One can smell the Matzoh Ball Soup throughout the village of Bethany (Aramaic: בית עניא, Beth anya ,"house of the suffering"). Today is the anniversary of asking my bride, Linda, to marry me. Thirty-one years ago, under a Persimmon tree on her father’s farm I proposed to her. It was every bit as hot then as it is today. The Persimmon tree offered little comfort from the heat of the sun, nor comfort from the uncertainties of the journey we were to embark upon. I digress. My point is that throughout these thirty-one years there have been many uncertainties, and there have been numerous sacrifices and that is the thrust of Jesus’ admonishment of Martha in today’s Gospel. What Jesus is attempting to convey to Martha is that it isn’t a matter of who worked harder to prepare for His visit, but that the important thing is whether in doing for others our heart is truly in it. When we do for others is it for the right motives and with the proper spirit? This very issue is one which frequently can be a point of contention amongst married couples. One of the primary sources of dissatisfaction for couples is who does what. No matter how good the relationship, now and then the question Martha poses in today’s Gospel presents itself. “Lord, do you not care that my sister…’ (Spouse) leaves me to do all of the work?” If nothing else, these thirty-one years have taught me that to truly love someone is no easy task (or, so my wife says). Truly both Mary and Martha loved our Lord very much. But like with all of us, selfishness can so easily get in the way of loving one another without reserve. Joyce Landorf, in her book I Came to Love You Late, presents a delightfully poignant fictional account of Mary and Martha and their relationship with Jesus. It is one of my wife’s favorite books. It goes without saying that we always want what is good for our spouse and too what is good for ourselves, but like Martha we sometimes have to reach beyond our feelings at the moment and make a deliberate choice to love, to do for the other, for romantic giddiness isn’t always there to see us through. Pope Benedict XVI notes in his Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), “…instead it seeks the good of the beloved: love becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even, willing to sacrifice.” For marriage to last, a deliberate choice to sacrifice, to forfeit our own wants and desires is necessary. Love isn’t something which just happens to us; it always requires a choice. What will we choose today? Make a great day!

Today we recall the good life, gifts, and works of Saint Martha.

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