Reflection for Tuesday, October 4, 2005: 27th week in Ordinary Time.

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O'Connor, Roc, S.J.
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"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."|When I was in grade school, I remember being taught in effect that this story showed the primacy of religious life over married life. I don't think that now mainly because it doesn't fit with the overall theological orientation of the gospel of Luke. |For Luke there are basically three types of persons: there are those who feed themselves with the riches or distractions of this world; there are those who trust in God; and there are the disciples whom Jesus is attempting to lure away from the first path (a temptation) into the second path. That would be you and me. |Let's face it. Martha fits into the first path. Jesus tells us so: she is burdened, anxious, and worried. These are the opposite of trusting God. What seems to have happened is that her work has become her identity and her way of avoiding the essentially human issues of vulnerability and intimacy between herself, Jesus, and others. Look at how her burdened, anxious, and worried state spills over into anger at her sister! |If the meaning of this passage is to fit within Luke's theology, then it is not about the problems of the practical person who gets things done. It's about the manner in which we live and move and have our being. It's about trying so hard to be independent and self-reliant that we all miss the boat about "trust in God." As the lead character says in O Brother, Where Art Thou?: "Consider the lilies of the (fill-in-the-blanks) field!" |Now, as for St. Francis of Assisi. A tendency exists in our Catholic world today to treat Francis the way we treat the elderly. "Isn't he cute!" In doing so, we dismiss him and render his passion ineffective.|Francis was a 13th century reformer who, because he saw that attachment to the things of this world was destroying people's lives, discovered freedom in attachment to poverty and emptiness. He's a scary person! He's untamable! |In the past two weeks I have heard comments from colleagues here at Creighton and elsewhere around the country to the effect that many of us feel like we are on a moving sidewalk that keeps traveling faster and faster. It's tough to get off the thing. This all results in less time to pray and fewer moments to reflect or be in touch with self, God, and friends.|Where is the St. Francis of the 21st century who will show us all how to let go of our attachment to our own independence, need to be famous, or addictions in order to find liberty in the poverty of reliance on God, obscurity, and the freedom of the children of God?
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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