THE ONE THING NECESSARY
Most of us are probably familiar with the story in Luke’s Gospel about Martha and Mary. Some of us feel like Martha gets a bum rap—it seems she is trying to serve Jesus with hospitality while her sister gets away with loafing around. But if we were to read the story in Greek, we might see something very interesting. Most English translations say that Martha was anxious or distracted and she was worried or disturbed. Anxious is the Greek word PERIESPATO. It has the connotation of being pulled or dragged in different directions. To be over-occupied. Too busy. And Martha was worried. That word in the Greek is THORUBEO it means a noisy upheaval, to yell, scream, or cause a loud fuss. Ahhhh… so Martha was not just worried, she was pitching a fit! She had a temper tantrum! That changes the story a bit, doesn’t it?
And St. Luke tells us that Mary had chosen “the better part” — the one thing necessary; the UNUM NECESSARIUM in the Latin. The lesson to be learned from the story is not only that prayerful attentiveness comes first before works of service, but more so we must decide between following the light of Jesus or following our own darkened nature.
Recently, I came upon a terrific podcast episode from Renewal Ministries with Peter Herbeck. Peter, who lives just down the road from us in the Ann Arbor area, was talking about a line in Matthew’s Gospel that I had never really paid attention to. Matthew 6:22-23 has Jesus saying that “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
Some of us are so messed up, darkness is our light. If the light in us is darkness, HOW DARK is the dark?! Isn’t that an apt image of the state of the world right now? Where everything seems topsy-turvy and evil is called good and good is called evil? (Isaiah 5:20–21 and Romans 1:18–23.) In my opinion, we are in an age filled with PERIESPATO and THORUBEO. The prophets of our time have seen this darkness coming for a hundred years; from Pope Benedict XVI to Bishop Fulton Sheen to Sister Lucia of Fatima. The signs of Satan’s handiwork are all around us: using murder as a solution to problems, multiplying sin, refusing truth, dividing groups of people, running into anarchy, destroying through war, and seeding our minds with diabolical confusion.
What are we to do in times like this? The same as always. We need to seek the Light. St. John tells us in John 1:4-5 “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” The cure for this PERIESPATO, THORUBEO, and darkness is the Light of Christ.
In his first epistle, 1 John 1:6 and 7, St. John is clear: “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not live according to the truth; but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” We would be wise to scrutinize our own lives with honesty, evaluating our thoughts, actions, relationships, politics, entertainment, calendar, checkbook, and all the rest. Are those areas of our lives illuminated by Jesus? Or are we falling in line with the ways of the enemy?
To help us encounter the light, we can learn from Martha and Mary by returning to the one thing necessary: Christ Jesus. Keep that candle burning, as they say; keep that baptismal candle burning. Choose prayer, Scripture, good works, and Sacraments. Peter Herbeck said in his YouTube episode: “If the times are indeed as bad as we say they are…if the darkness in our world is growing heavier by the moment…if we are facing spiritual battles right in our own homes and churches… then we are foolish not to turn to the One who supplies unlimited grace and power. He is our only source. We are crazy to ignore him.” It would be so good for us to walk in a lighted path.
It would be so smart to avoid pitch blackness. It would be so wise to choose the one thing necessary. We in this parish invite you to choose the Mass. Choose the Eucharist. Choose worship. Choose Christ.