Pastor's Note- July 21, 2013

I remember when I was trying to figure out to which life was God was calling me.  I spent at least six years “discerning” my vocation. Because I resisted the idea of becoming a priest and Jesuit, my heart was marked more by restlessness than by peace and contentment.  Describing this feeling, the poet, Francis Thompson, once wrote:

 

            I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;

            I fled Him, down the arches of the years;

            I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways

            Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears

            I hid from Him, and under running laughter.

 

I wanted clarity; I wanted a tangible sense that I was doing what I was supposed to do, that I was following God’s will.  Many of us are often preoccupied with first discovering and then fulfilling God’s will in our lives.  Even though such language is common in our Catholic Christian faith, in a way, I have grown to believe that it is like “putting the cart ahead of the horse.” 

 

This Sunday’s gospel passage is the familiar story of Mary and Martha. The Lord comes to visit and Martha busies herself, probably in serving Him, while Mary simply sits at His feet.  After some time, Martha asks Christ if he is not bothered by Mary’s lack of help.  Jesus gives Martha, and us, a confusing and difficult answer.  He says, “there is need of only one thing . . . [and] Mary has chosen the better part.”  I know that most of us sympathize with Martha – she is working to serve the Lord and others.  Isn’t this the right thing to do? I once saw a bumper-sticker which read: “Jesus is coming, so look busy.” If each of us is personally and passionately loved by God, which we are, then which do you think God prefers – that we anxiously and fearfully seek to serve Him in just the right way, or that sit at His feet and allow Him to see us, to hold us, to caress us and to love us?  Mary chose the “better part” because she was not interested in presenting to the Lord the works of her hands, but rather in taking His hands into her own. 

 

“In the midst of tears” we can hide from the Lord.  In trying to discern to gain clarity of our life’s vocation, we can hide from the Lord.  We don’t have to prove ourselves to God, to sort of justify ourselves to the Lord.  We are loved by Him and, quite frankly, nothing else matters.  When we know His love, we do not have to be preoccupied about doing the right thing or following God’s will.  We simply have to be who we are – the beloved of the Lover.  And then, we can’t go wrong.  The Psalmist asks, “O Lord, who may abide in your tent?”  It seems almost irreverent to believe and to say, but church, we can “abide in your tent” because the Lord has invited us in.  Our hearts are filled with peace and gentleness when we begin to know this truth of our faith. A principle of our faith, no matter how hard it is to believe, is that it is God who seeks each of us, instead of us seeking God.  As Francis Thompson discovered: “I am He Whom thou seekest!”  We don’t have to prove ourselves to God.  His gift is before us, that is, His love is given to us.

 

God Bless & Take Care,

 

Fr. John


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