Friday, July 23, 2010

I felt ridiculously better after Mass last Sunday.

This, despite 3 cell phones going off. Let me break down for you how this sounds.

1. You hear the muffled ringing, in someone's pocket or purse.

2. You hear the flustered fumbling of that person trying to get their phone out.

3. You hear the suddenly amplified and amazingly shrill sound fill the entire building, as the ringing reaches up to the painted heavens on the domed church ceiling.

I'm not sure how better to translate the 'please turn off all electronic devices' entreaty prior to the beginning of Mass.

Somehow, though, the Holy Spirit managed to weave its way around my annoyance and find a point of entry. Somehow we've managed to hang together this entire week. And it feels good.

I loved the Gospel reading, but I'm uncertain of its meaning. Martha and her sister Mary, welcoming Jesus. Martha, the workhorse, sweating in the kitchen, gets pissed when she sees Mary just chilling by the feet of Jesus. Why isn't she helping me? Martha thinks? Why is she just sitting there?

When Martha questions this, and brings Jesus into it, he tells her that her sister has chosen the better path. Listening has trumped service. Contemplation has trumped dinner prep.

I admit to being confused by this. On one hand, I can understand how contemplation has to be part of the spiritual life of a person. On the other hand, I wonder what the lesson is, exactly. Should Martha have taken her seat on the floor? Let her anxiety go about feeding someone whom she loves greatly?

As someone who enjoys having company, I could feel her stress. If I don't do it, who will prepare the meal? But Jesus essentially told her she was fretting about all the wrong things.

I admit to feeling bad for her.

So ultimately, I'm not sure the moral. We serve others. We contemplate. But we're supposed to know which is preferable when? Should Martha have trusted that somehow the meal would get made?

Can you help elucidate this for me?


Fran said...

I can't illuminate a thing, but I can tell you that I love to read what you write...

MemeGRL said...

Sometimes I try to remember: it's like Wednesday Spaghetti. No one is here to see how clean my house is, or thinks they are getting a gourmet meal. We are here to spend time together, and we don't do that by fooling around in the kitchen perfecting a souffle.

Sometimes I take it at a more literal level and say, Jesus doesn't care how clean my kitchen is. He wants my time, and I'm busy puttering around with "things of the earth." And alternately, my kids won't remember how fancy my meals were, but they will remember that I was lying on the floor building Legos with them.

But I also hear this and think, here's the first proof that women are not understood by our church and it starts at the top! If his mother Mary were there, SHE would have been in the kitchen, mark my words. (Like the wedding, where she was the one who pressed Jesus to do the wine miracle--she's a woman--she gets it about the food/love connection.)

And I don't like this one either. That's why I think about it so much.

Anonymous said...

I think Jesus is giving Martha yet another version of the parable from Mark ch.4. If Martha was cheerfully preparing the meal, knowing that that was what she needed to be doing, and did not whine to Jesus, then I think He would have said that she was doing the right thing. Yes, she needs to let go of her anxiety about it. Being anxious, she is like a seed among the thorns.

In John ch. 11, we see Martha as the sister with the deeper faith in Jesus. She does not doubt that Jesus can help Lazarus, whereas Mary fears He is too late. I think Jesus recognized the difference in their personalities.

Rima said...

I've always been confused by that reading, too, and for exactly the same reasons. I like what De said, though. And I keep reminding myself that parables were used to illustrate bigger truths.

painted maypole said...

i was going to write what de said, but she said it way better