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  • Bill Miller

July 17, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Genesis 18:1-10a Colossians 1:24-28 Luke 10:38-42

The first part of today's reflection is written to the women: Ladies, today we have the story of Mary and Martha… our favorite!

As we enter the scene we see Martha in the kitchen, schlepping the pots and pans, getting dinner ready for Jesus and whoever else he brought along.

And then there is Mary. She is sitting on her… shall we say, “cushion”… on the floor, listening to Jesus. She will, of course, expect to take part in the dinner when it is ready. And to add insult to injury, Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part!

How can this story be appreciated as good news by the worker bees of the world, the women and men who “get’er done”?

I have a suggestion. And, gentlemen, this applies to you, too. Instead of “either/or”, let us look at Martha and Mary as a personification of “both/and”.

Just last week we heard the two great commandments cited: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Love your neighbor as yourself. That is two loves, isn't it? It doesn't say love your neighbor instead of yourself!

It seems to me that Martha is a perfect example of love of neighbor. The work she is putting into preparing the meal is a tangible way of caring for her dinner guests. But isn't Mary a good example of self-care? Sitting and listening to Jesus is certainly caring for her spiritual, intellectual and emotional life.

Both are important. And keeping them in balance leads to the healthy life that is loving one's neighbor as oneself.

I think that is the good news in the story. I suggest it is important for the Marthas of the world, women and men, to take time for appropriate self-care, to make sure that they don’t lose themselves in work, even good important work. Without balance…without prayer, quiet, recreation… even the good work we do will suffer. The Marys of the world, on the other hand, need to make sure that the world is better off for the fruits of their contemplation, that they are not lost in navel-gazing, for surely that will be reflected in the quality of their interior life.

We don't need to choose. It is in balancing our Martha life and our Mary life that we most truly honor that second commandment. It is then that we truly love our neighbor as ourselves.

by: Pat Schnee

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