Holy Family

Holy Family

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Feast of Blessed John Henry Newman

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"). Mary and Martha are very excited to see Jesus, because they are very dear friends, and they love him very much. So it is with us when loved ones come to call. We make special foods, and we want everything to be just so. 

I have to laugh. All day yesterday, up until I wrote a check out at the grocers, I thought it was October 9th. I mention this because that would have made today our 31st Wedding Anniversary, which is why I was at the grocers—getting provisions for a picnic. My wife loves picnics. Tomorrow October 10th is our 31st Wedding Anniversary and tomorrow we will enjoy each other’s company over a special meal. 

It seems we surround lots of important events in our lives with food. Food, special foods for me often equates to love. And so it seems to be as well with Mary and Martha. My point is that much of what has nurtured our marriage through these 31 years is our attending to one another in special ways. Linda, my wife, can be quite childlike in her efforts to do special things toward keeping the love alive in our marriage. Like Mary in today’s Gospel she becomes giddy over visits with loved ones. 

Make no mistake, it hasn’t been wine and roses, throughout these thirty-one years; there have been 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. 

It hardly seems possible that just a little over two years ago people gathered together for another special meal, a meal celebrating the holy life of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. Just two years ago 55,000 people gathered in Birmingham England’s Cofton Park to celebrate the Eucharist in recognition of John Henry Newman's life of love and sacrifice, a celebration of an individual who spent his life pursuing the Truth. Pope Benedict said of him: “Cardinal Newman's motto, Cor ad cor loquitur, or 'Heart speaks unto heart', gives us an insight into his understanding of the Christian life as a call to holiness, experienced as the profound desire of the human heart to enter into intimate communion with the Heart of God.” He was a man who chose to live what he preached; he spent his life seeking and submitting to the Truth which he found in the love of our Lord. And so it is with us, we need to awaken each day making deliberate choices to love. As Pope Benedict XVI notes in his Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), that love “…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 Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman.

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