October 6, 2020
by Amy Hoover
Creighton University's Retreat Center
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 462

Galatians 1:13-24
Psalm 139:1-3, 13-14, 14-15
Luke 10:38-42

Praying Ordinary Time

The story of Mary and Martha is often used for prayer and reflection.  It is not new to us.  We are generally invited to pause and consider are we more like Mary the listener/contemplative or more like Martha the doer/activist.  I will say, upfront to claim my bias, that I am more of a Mary.  This being said, my attention in prayer with the scripture was Jesus’ words, “There is need of only one things.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  When praying, the question surfaced for me, what is “the better part”?  In my imagination, I see Mary sitting with Jesus and others listening but also in conversation, maybe asking questions or offering ideas.  I realize that this would have been unconventional in Jesus’ time, but, he was unconventional.  The point is, I hear Jesus telling Martha and us, that to be with one another, to be in relationship is the “one thing” that is needed.  For me, that is a call to prayer.  Not worship at his feet, but prayer where I share with God how things are going and listen for a response.

As I reflected with the scripture some more, I struggled with Jesus’ apparent choosing the contemplative way over the activist way.  But once again, as I rested in the story in prayer, I realized that starting with prayer, being in relationship with God and others, naturally leads to activism.  How many times do we serve out of a sense of obligation or because we think that it is expected?  Is that what Martha was doing?  Given the norms of the time, women would not have been part of the conversation, possibly not even at the table.  They would have been preparing the meal and serving because that was the expectation.  If given the opportunity to be in relationship, to be a disciple/apostle  maybe would have desired to make and serve the meal, to use their gifts out of love.  When we are in relationship with people we want to use our gifts to help them, serve them.  This desire comes from a place of love, not obligation.  Serving becomes a privilege not a burden.  Could it be that Mary “choosing the better part” is really resulting in Mary choosing both.  I wonder, if after this encounter, Mary chose out of love for Martha to join her in serving those gathered in their home.

As we go about our day, let’s ask:  How is God calling me to be in relationship?  Where are we serving out of obligation and where are we serving out of love?  How does this knowledge call me to prayer and transformation and/or greater relationship?

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