SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - Rev. Randall P. Patterson
Women play a prominent role in St. Luke’s Gospel. Martha and Mary stand for two dimensions inside each of us. One is the desire to achieve – to work – to raise a family – to make a difference – to accomplish something.
That’s the Martha dimension.
The other need we all have – unique to human beings – is the need to pause – to look at where our life is going – to listen to God. This is the Mary dimension. Prayer and reflection are like the rudder - guiding our life.
Otherwise – we’re like a leaf that the wind pushes anywhere. As human beings and disciples - we need both – work and prayer.
We can extend - St. Luke’s gospel account even further – to our prayer life. We can so easily limit prayer to “saying prayers” – the Martha part – that we forget the prayer of silent listening to God – the Mary part.
This kind of prayer – “being with the Lord,” is necessary for a mature and strong spiritual life. Being in the quiet presence of Christ – gives us the chance - to pull all the separate strands of our life - together. It’s like stopping and looking at a road map - to compare where we are - with our eternal destination.
Listening prayer enables us to recognize the presence of God – who comes to us in unexpected ways – just as God comes to Abraham – in today’s first reading – in the disguise of visitors. God enters our life in all kinds of ways – through good times and bad. Everything that happens to us is seeded with grace. Quiet prayer – listening to God – helps those seeds grow.
This kind of prayer brings spiritual wisdom – we take the word of God and make it our own. Listening to God - enables us to discover – the particular way we follow Christ as spouse – parent – employee – professional – student or parish priest. It gives us a wisdom - not found in text books – it’s born in the presence of God.
The prayer of listening takes discipline – strength – and work – but it makes our time with Christ a source of energy – power - and vision and it’s open to everyone – it has nothing to do with age – income level – IQ – male/female - single/married – lay person or priest. It has only to do - with taking time to listen. God will touch us where we are.
The prayer of listening enlightens us - God’s will becomes clear to us – and we receive the strength/energy to do it. We come to see - with St. Paul in our second reading – the mystery of Christ – the Holy Spirit – at work – not just out there – but within us – the movements of Christ in our mind – heart - and life. Time with the Lord - is our rudder in any storm. Like a rudder – prayer helps us use the winds - that come to us from whatever direction – to bring us closer to Christ – closer to home.