Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Martha, Martha...

A couple of times Jesus tells people in the Gospels that contemplation and adoration are "the better part". 

The most obvious story involves Martha and Mary. We all know the story. Martha was up doing everything: minding the roast, setting the table, bustling around "doing". Mary, on the other hand, was seated at Jesus' feet visiting and soaking up his holy presence. Well, of course, Martha was miffed and asked Jesus to make Mary help her, to which Jesus replied, "Martha, you are worried about many things, but Mary has chosen the better part."

I imagine that Mary probably usually carried her fair share around the house. Martha was probably not always left all alone to tend to everything, though, being the Martha-type myself, I'll bet she felt that way. I can just hear the whine escaping my own lips.

But this is not the only time we see Our Lord address Adoration. Again, it's Mary, (maybe not the same Mary,) over the anointing of Jesus' feet with nard. Judas notes what a waste it was to anoint Jesus' feet with such a costly perfume. That money could have been used to feed the poor! But Jesus tells him to leave Mary alone, that we will not always have Jesus with us, but we will always have the poor.

Of course, we know how that story ended. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss: an outward sign of affection that never penetrated the heart. There was no adoration for Jesus in the heart of Judas.


I went to Adoration this morning. This is my third morning in a row to make it for at least a little bit of time. While I was there one of the parishioners was bustling about setting the Church up for a service later in the day. It was almost as if he couldn't sit still.

At first I was very annoyed. Frankly it was incredibly distracting to have the banging around of books and furniture and the rustling of paper as the background music for the rosary I was trying to get out to Jesus who was exposed on the altar. It was almost as if he was purposely making noise.

As the hour moved on, though, I thought that maybe he had someplace he needed to be after Adoration and really needed to get this done now. Maybe he got stuck doing something that was not in his plan to handle today. I know I'd be annoyed about that. Charity in all things, right?

Would I have been doing the same thing during Adoration? Have I before? Well, not really...

I had an image of myself sitting at the feet of Jesus and trying to listen while my Martha-Self slammed pots around in the kitchen to rouse me to action. I thought of what my Mary-Self might say to my Martha-Self besides, "Stop being so rude, Martha!"

How about: "Why are you making such a big deal about having to do this?"
Or: "Don't you know it's all for Him?"

I think this was as much a rebuke for my Mary-Self (and the Judgy McJudgerson I was quickly turning into) as it would have been for my Martha-Self. As I collected my wits and focus back together to finish my prayers, (that's right, Day-dreamer, pay attention!) I reflected on the divided attention state that I live in.

People who live in the world have so few moments to spend quietly listening for the voice of God. We should do as Jesus suggests and choose "the better part" of that time. And make no mistake: He does specifically tells us that to adore and contemplate and listen are the better part.

But, that being said, as we move through our days, we need to remember that though we are, indeed, busy with many things, they should all be for Him, anyway. So is bustling around doing work during your Adoration such a bad thing?

I think it is, but I'd like to hear your thoughts on it. So here's a couple of questions for you:

Do you think it matters what you do with the time you spend in Adoration? Do you use your Adoration time to work or just to sit in the silence? Why?

1 comment:

  1. I like the question. I have to say I spend little time worrying about "what" I'm going to "do'" at adoration. Sometimes I talk (pray). Sometimes I listen--by letting my mind wander to where it leads, gently reminding it ever so often of where I am at. Sometimes I just "hang out." I think I like just "hanging out" with our Lord the best. My way of life has me spending an awful lot of time alone or in the company of dogs. When I have the benefit of being with friends, what I find I treasure now, more than ever, is just spending time with someone, regardless if that includes an "activity" or not. Sitting quietly together is often as refreshing as getting to laugh so hard you cry... My Mom used to tell me that the Blessed Sacrament is "longing for company" and the company of each of us, in particular. That's how you know you are in love, right? When you want to spend as much time with someone as possible, even it it's just to hang out? Yeah, I like hanging out the best.