What matters most

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Thursday, July 18, 2013


This Sunday's gospel, as recorded in Luke 10:38-42, narrates the story of Jesus visiting the home of two sisters, Martha and Mary. Mary sat at the Lord's feet, listening to him as he spoke. Martha, on the other hand, became overburdened with much serving, to the point that she complained saying, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me." And what was the Lord's reply? "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her."

Today we ask ourselves, "How do we characterize our dealings with the Lord? Are we like Martha or Mary?" Both actually tried to entertain the Lord, yet they differed in the way they chose to please him.

To be like Martha is to be so preoccupied with the trivial and mundane... with the simple and passing... with form rather than substance. In Church life this may mean being overly concerned with formalities, ceremonies and rituals rather than on the reasons why these are being done in the first place. This may also mean being engrossed with the ministries rather than the Person... that Divine Being for whom each ministry is done.

In the family, to be like Martha may take the form of a materialistic orientation - putting much premium to the provision of physical needs and wants, to the neglect of spending quality time between and among family members, communicating, and even praying together.

At work, to be like Martha is to follow all protocols and business etiquettes, but forgetting to observe the more important requirement of delivering quality service coupled with efficiency and effectiveness.

To be like Mary, on the other hand, is to focus on what matters most ... on the essential rather than the non-essential... on grace rather than Law. In the Church this means putting God as the foundation, the center, the beginning and the end. It is worshiping God in spirit and in truth.

In the family this means loving the spouse and the children in ways beyond what money can buy, and at work, this involves channeling one's time and effort to what produces the more important results.

The gospel is reminding us to reexamine our priorities. The highest priority should be no other than our personal relationship with the Lord, symbolically represented here by Mary sitting at Jesus' feet to listen to him, even if that means placing at the backseat or even forgetting for a while the cares and concerns of this life. Yet, the secret is this: when God becomes our first priority, he supplies all of our lesser priorities. As Jesus promised, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:33).

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on July 18, 2013.

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