Monday, August 31, 2015

THANKS FOR THE GREATEST GIFT OF ALL!!!


 

The great mystical writer Meister Eckhart stated: “If the only prayer that we ever said were that of THANKSGIVING then it would be enough.”   Jesus was dismayed and saddened at the reaction of nine of the ten lepers who did not return to Him to render Him thanks for having cured them instantaneously of their terrible, ugly, and incurable disease—that of leprosy! (Lk.17:11-19)

Given that ingratitude is so prevalent in the modern society and so displeasing to God, “the giver or all good gifts”, we would like to offer a few encouraging notes on how we can enhance an “attitude of gratitude” in our lives.     Saint Ignatius of Loyola asserted:  “The essence of sin is that of ingratitude.”  William Shakespeare hit the mark commenting:  “More painful than a serpent’s tooth is that of an ungrateful child.”

We will focus on one gift from God to all of humanity. It is the greatest of all God’s gifts—Himself given under the appearances of bread and wine in the most Holy Eucharist.   Actually the word “Eucharist” means “thanksgiving.”  Let us pour out our humble and grateful hearts to the Lord of all good gifts especially for the Eucharist--- the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  This great Gift He gave to us the night before He died, at the Last Supper in the Upper Room surrounded by His first priests and Bishops—the Apostles!

1.    PRIESTHOOD.  Let us constantly give thanks to Jesus for prolonging His own priesthood in the ordained priests. Only they can confect and transform the bread and wine into His Body and Blood.   Thank God for the priests you know and pray for them, but also pray that God will send more priests to work for the salvation of souls.  “The Harvest is rich but the laborers are few.”

2.    HOLY MASS.  Praise and thank the Lord for the reality of daily Mass throughout the world.  As an ordained priest, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the very center, heart, core, essence of my being as priest but also as a Christian Catholic.  Those who do not have the habit of daily Mass might make this proposal to go to daily Mass, when it is possible according to your schedule.  If done, you will never regret it but be eternally grateful for the graces that will fill your mind, heart, and soul.

3.    TABERNACLE.  Thank God for the presence of the Tabernacle.  This is the little home, the castle, the abode of the Lord of Lord and the King of Kings. It is His little House.   Do not leave Him alone all day. Visit Jesus in His little Home.  The word “Bethlehem” means “House of Bread”. Make it a habit to visit Jesus in His little Home. Maybe this short poem can be of motivation that you visit Jesus in the Tabernacle and give Him thanks:  “Whenever I see a church I stop to make a visit so that when I die the lord will not say: Who is it!”

4.    MONSTRANCE. Even more clearly present is the Eucharistic Lord when he is exposed in the Eucharistic monstrance.   The word “Monstrance” with a Latin derivation actually means “Showing”. Jesus is being manifested, shown publically, so that we can come to adore Him and thank Him for all the many gifts that he has bestowed on us and will continual to pour into our lives!

5.    CONSECRATION.  Thank God especially in the context of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the moment of consecration. That is the key moment when heaven comes down to earth. When the priest repeats the words that Jesus said at the Last Supper over the bread and wine: “Take and eat this is my Body; take and drink this is my Blood…” then you are witnessing the greatest miracle in the world: Jesus truly comes down from heaven to be with us.  Emmanuel—meaning God with us is truly with us again!  How thankful we should be for this gift of gifts!

6.    HOLY COMMUNION.  God’s goodness has no limits! The greatest gesture we can accomplish while living on earth is to receive Holy Communion into our hearts, into the depths of our souls.  A more deep, intimate, profound union cannot exist on the planet then the soul that receive Holy Communion worthily.  You soul becomes a living tabernacle, a living sanctuary.   “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His love endures forever.”

7.    MYSTICAL BODY OF CHRIST.   Furthermore be thankful that you are not alone, but in family. The Church is the family of God, the People of God, and also expressed as the Mystical Body of Christ.  Christ is the Head of the Body and all of us are His members. Rejoice and thank God that we have our brothers and sisters united in the Lord through the Eucharistic celebration and reception!

8.    EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS.  In imitation of Jesus and His friends the saints we should all have a special love and express a special care and tenderness towards the elderly, the sick, the suffering, the handicapped—these are the loved ones and favorites of the Lord. Let us thank God for the generous and selfless work of Eucharistic ministers who in charity visit homes, nursing homes, hospitals, extended care centers to bring the Eucharistic Lord to them to alleviate their pain and loneliness. Jesus reminds us: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me.”

9.    BEAUTIFUL CHURCHES AND ART WORK.  The great and saintly Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney lived a life of extreme poverty and mortification. He has been chosen by the Popes as model as well as patron for parish priests. He ate very little, slept very little (and even that on the floor); he scourged himself to the shedding of blood and spent close to 15 hours daily in the confessional—in heat and cold—for more than thirty five years! However, he made trips and concerted efforts to adorn his church and embellish it in the most beautiful way imaginable. Why?  For the Lord He wanted to give the best! Let us thank the Lord for the beauty of Churches throughout the 2000 years of its history. Let us do all we can to help to magnify the beauty of our own churches. Remember that the Lord of Lord’s and King of King’s abides in our churches.

10.OUR LADY AND THE EUCHARIST. Let us render homage, praise and thanks to the Lord God for having chosen Our Lady to be the living tabernacle of Jesus within her womb during a course of nine months.  When Our Lady went in hurry to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the hill country she was actually a living tabernacle, a Corpus Christi, a Eucharistic procession. It all started with Our Lady’s “yes” to God. Therefore, let us beg our Lady for an attitude of gratitude, especially for her Son Jesus present in the Church, present in the Tabernacle, present in the consecration, and especially present in our hearts after we have receive Holy Communion.  “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; eternal is His mercy.”

 

Monday, August 24, 2015

ZACCHAEUS…(Lk. 19:1-10)



The following is a schematic commentary, point by point on the wonderful conversion of Zacchaeus.  Read the Biblical passage and then use the commentary to help to fill in the gaps!

1.    Jerusalem. Jesus is heading towards Jerusalem where He will undergo His passion, suffering and death for our salvation. Principle and Foundation—know where we came from and where we are heading…

2.    JESUS- SAVIOR.  The primary purpose of the coming of Jesus was and is to save the world from sin and bring them to heaven.

3.    PUBLIC MINISTRY—Jesus carried out three basic activities: teaching/preaching, exorcisms, and miracles. Jesus preached whenever He could in all times and places where there was an occasion.

4.    OPEN HEARTS.  Jesus then as well as now is looking for open hearts. He stands at the door and knocks.

THE PERSON AND THE STORY OF ZACCHAEUS…

1.    JERICHO—A very rich city, one of the riches of Palestine for its Palm forests and fruit and exchange. For this reason the Romans/ Tax-collectors highly taxed those who entered and left Jericho.   Good Samaritan told in the context of Jericho.

2.    ZACH.  Had reached the top of his profession and according to some commentators was hated by many. Remember that St. Matthew was also a tax-collector.

3.    He was wealthy but he was not happy.  Truly money cannot buy us true happiness on earth.  His money could buy him pleasure and things but not true joy.  He as despised rejected, and hated by men, this brought him to seek for God.  Apparently he had heard of Jesus who had no prejudices. Jesus loved all especially sinners and tax-collectors; so Zach. Would try to meet Jesus. He had nothing to lose.

4.    DIFFICULTY IN SEEING JESUS FOR VARIOUS REASONS.  First of all, he was small of stature. Next he was despised by many.  If he got close to Jesus in the crowd then they would have taken the opportunity to pinch him, or nudge him, or elbow him, or kick him or knock him down—as a sign of revenge. In a word he would be bruised black and blue.

5.    CREATIVITY/INGENUITY.  He would climb a tree so that he could at least see what Jesus looked like. Imagine him shimmying up the tree, maybe slipping at first. Maybe he got a blister or two. Hanging from the limb might have been dangerous. Of course the people seeing him would make fun of him calling him crazy! He did not care. It was worth seeing Jesus!

6.    CONVERSION: CHANGE OF HEART BY HIS ACTIONS.  His failure was with money and taking advantage of people and most likely levying taxes that were too high, as was the custom of the Tax-collectors.  Look what he does and he confesses publically.  He would give half of his money to the poor! That is already extreme. But still more, if he defrauded anybody, he would repay four times as much.  This went way beyond the Levitical requirements!

7.    REPARATION.  A very important aspect of spirituality the call to repair or reparation. In justice when we do something wrong we should try to repair the damage. The following are examples:

a)    Confession—the priest gives us a penance. Often it is very small and maybe we should add to it.

b)    STEAL—you/ child should try to restore what was stolen. (Laura S. and the stolen cookie story)

c)      STORE—Give too much should return.

d)    Slander—Restore the person’s name you ruined.  Neri and chicken story. Unpluck the feathers and cast them to the wind and then gather them. Much easier to do then to restore the reputation destroyed!

e)    Husband hurt wife, should try to make up for it.

f)      Broken window by baseball, pay for the window before getting the ball back.

g)    Miss Mass on Sunday with family—go to a week-day Mass.

h)     Harsh word that hurts—try to repair by a kind word.

i)      BREAK IT—Buy a new one.

j)      Borrow book—restore it!

8.    PAY NOW OR LATER—PURGATORY!

9.    VICTIM SOULS—those who willingly suffer for these reasons:  to console the wounded heart of Jesus—Fr. Mike Gaitley’s book, to repair for past sins, for the conversion of sinners. Examples: Padre Pio, Faustina, and the children of Fatima.

10. JESUS REJOICES!!! At the conversion of this sinner. He made an effort to see Jesus, climbed the tree and showed true signs of repentance by a desire to repair the damage.

11.HIS HOME.  Wanted to go to his home. Once again, Jesus wants to go to our home, our heart in Holy Communion!

12. COMMUNION OF REPARATION—one of the best ways to repair for sin is Mass and Holy Communion of Reparation.

Monday, August 17, 2015


OUR LADY AS MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACES
 

 Even though it has not been declared as an official dogma of the faith, the Church in its Ordinary Magisterium teaches that Jesus is the unique Mediator between God and man. However, associated with Jesus in the divine plan of salvation Our Lady is the Mediatrix of all graces.

MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACES: MEANING.  All of the graces that flow to us flow from the throne of the Blessed Trinity. God is the origin and source through which all graces flow. However, God has chosen Our Lady, the Mother of God as well as Our Mother in the order of grace as a channel through which these graces flow so abundantly.

ANALOGIES.  An image that one of the saints in the Church utilized is the following. The Church has many names and one of the names is The Mystical Body of Christ. Therefore, Jesus is the Head of the Mystical Body the Church; we are the members of this Body. Our Lady then is the neck which connects the Body to the rest of the members! CANAL.  Water flow freely from one place to another by means of a canal. Our Lady is the living canal through which the water of God’s graces flow freely to sanctify humanity. A BRIDGE built over a body of water connects one place to another. So it is with Our Lady. She is the living bridge by which heaven is united to earth. GATE OF HEAVEN. Another poetical title given to Our Lady is the “Gate of Heaven”. A tender and strong devotion to Mary will help us to pass from this life into next and arrive safely at heaven.  All of these are mere images of the presence of Our Lady in the plan of God, in His plan of Redemption.

BIBLICAL PASSAGE: OUR LADY AS MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACES.  The most obvious Biblical passage that substantiates the role of Our Lady as Mediatrix of all graces is found in the Gospel of Saint John(Jn. 2:1-12) It is the passage of the Wedding Feast of Cana.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF TEXT AND INTERPRETATION.   Jesus enters into His Public ministry after spending close to thirty years in the Private life of Nazareth with Mary and Saint Joseph. Jesus, Mary and some of the Apostles are invited to a wedding banquet. Something embarrassing happens: the wedding coupler runs out of wine. Noticing this embarrassing situation Our Lady intervenes and tells Jesus that there is no more wine. Then finally Our Lady tells the servant: “Do whatever he tells you.” Sic huge stone jars are brought to Jesus filled to the brim with water. Then Jesus turns the water into wine. And it was the best quality wine. Behold a brief summary!

INTERPRETATION.   In the Gospel of John there are the seven signs of Jesus, meaning the seven miracles that Jesus did in this Gospel. The first of these seven miracles was the following: the turning of water into wine in the Wedding Feast of Cana. It is true beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was the one who performed the miracle.  Jesus would perform miracles to give evident proof to the fact that he was not just a man but also God. The catechetical definition for Him is: “Jesus is the Son of God made man.”

MARY’S ROLE.  However, the Biblical passage would be totally incomplete if the role of Mary were not underlined, if her importance were simply sidetracked. This would be a falsification of the text!  Our point is simply this!  It was Our Lady’s loving, attentive, and maternal eye that picked up immediately this embarrassing situation. It was Our Lady, Mediatrix of all graces, that pointed out to Jesus the problem and the dire need of the couple.  Jesus was moved by the love of His Mother. Jesus was touched by the maternal care and attention of His Mother. Jesus was motivated to carry out this first of His many miracles through the presence and the intercession of His Mother. To ignore this would be to falsify an authentic interpretation of the text.

OUR LADY OF THE MIRACULOUS MEDAL.  Our Lady appeared to Saint Catherine Labouree in Rue de Bac, Paris, in the convent in the year 1830.  The nun Catherine was awakened by an angel and beckoned to go into the chapel in the convent because somebody was waiting for her there. Dressing quickly the nun hurried into the chapel to witness a vision that would changer her life as well as countless believers throughout the years. Our Lady was there in the chapel sitting in the Presidential chair of the priest, beckoning the humble sister to draw closer to her.  The closeness was unique in the history of Our Lady’s approved apparitions. The nun actually put her hands in the lap of Our Lady and then they began to talk.

LATER APPARITION. In a later apparition Our Lady asked the nun, Catherine Labouree, to ask that a medal be made in her honor. The nun kept this a secret for many years until through the intervention of her spiritual director and confessor it was revealed.  This is the famous Medal of the Immaculate Conception, commonly called the Miraculous Medal because so many miracles have been attributed to Our Lady through this humble means.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta as well as Saint Maximilian Kolbe are tow modern saints who have been ardent lovers of Our Lady as well as zealous propagators of wearing with faith and trust this sign of our love for Our Lady and our trust in her power of intercession.

PRACTICE.  Why not turn to Our Lady and tell her what is most heavy on your heart. In other words, we all have at least one small thorn embedded in our own hearts. Why not open up to Our Lady, Mediatrix of all graces and talk to her about this pain, this splinter, this thorn that is causing you so much pain. Our Lady told Saint Catherine of Labouree, referring to the rays emanating from the front image that those are the many graces that nobody asks for! Why not right now and very frequently in the course of your life, open up your heart and share your most intimate secrets, sufferings, fears, doubts, and worries with Our Lady. Maybe, through her intercession, the thorn of sorrow may not be taken away right away, but Our Lady will share with you the pain and offer it up to God for the salvation of immortal souls.  Many graces are awaiting you if you only can entrust your life to Jesus, the Son of Mary.

CLIMBING A TREE AS A LADDER TO HEAVEN
When was the last time you climbed a tree?  Did you ever fall off a tree branch? When you did climb from a tree and not fall off? How long did you spend time in that tree?  Would you be ready to climb a tree now?

THE LITTLE GUY IN THE BIBLE THAT CLIMBED THE TREE!  There was a little man in the Gospel that did climb a tree. His name was Zaccheus!   Why did he do such a feat?  Years ago there was a cigarette commercial with the theme:  “I would walk a mile for a Camel” which was and still is a brand-name for a type of cigarette.   This commercial obviously was insinuating that that type of cigarette is so good that it was worth extra effort to attain it—to walk the extra mile!

The little guy that climbed the tree named Zaccheus had a far greater motivation than to buy and smoke a cigarette named after the big animal with the hump on his back!   The motivation that drove the little guy to climb the heights should be the same motivation that drives us on to a new life, a converted life, a life in pursuit of sanctity.

CLIMBING FOR JESUS!   The simple reason for the tree-climbing episode of this little man was that Zaccheus really wanted to at least see Jesus, to at least see what Jesus looked like! It was worth the time, the effort, the sweat, possibly blistered palms, and even worth the possibility of the fall! Seeing Jesus was worth it all!

LESSONS TO LEARN FROM THE LITTLE GUY IN THE TREE!  There are many lessons that we can learn from the little guy in the tree. Maybe he will motivate us to find our own tree and climb it despite the obstacles we might find.

1.    NOT BORN A SAINT.   The little guy was no saint!  He was not born a saint, did not always live the life of absolute holiness; still more, people were keenly aware of his faults!  Despite your past, you may have felt little in the eyes of God, have spent little time in drawing close to God, maybe even climbing false trees and going out on the limb of moral disaster, a spiritual “Evil-Knievel!”  Like Zaccheus, time to climb the right tree and look out for Jesus! Try it!

2.    COUNT THE COST OF SEEING JESUS: CLIMB YOUR OWN TREE!  Jesus was in town and Zaccheus wanted to see Jesus, but there was a serious problem, he was just too small. The crowd surrounded Jesus as Jesus moved on to teach the people the Word of God, the Word of salvation. Despite his many efforts, the little guy could not penetrate and break through the crowd. You might even imagine the somewhat comical scene. Zaccheus tries to get in but the bigger people purposely close the gap. Perhaps he got elbowed, bruised, or maybe even knocked down; there the poor little guy is laying in the dust.  If this were to have happened to us, honestly, most likely we would have thrown in the towel and simply called it “quits”! Not in the case of Zaccheus, the little tough guy!

3.    INGENUITY/CREATIVITY, INNOVATIVE! Saint Pope John Paul II spoke about a new springtime of grace as we enter the new millennium. But also the saintly pontiff mentioned the importance of creativity.  The Holy Spirit is a God of surprises as well as a God of infinite and varied creativity. Nowhere else in the Bible do we see a man climbing a tree to attain his end. Poor Absalom got his long heir caught in the tree, as his mule ran off, but that cost him his life. Zaccheus climbed the tree for a very noble and worthy purpose—for the simple reason that he wanted to set his eyes on Jesus! How willing are we to exercise creativity to see Jesus; still more, what tree are we willing to climb to help the many blind people in the world to at least set their eyes on the glorious Person of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Do we have apostolic zeal, a desire to bring souls to see Jesus?

4.    THE BEST INVITATION.  Jesus accepted the invitation to visit the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. The disciples on the road to Emmaus also invited Jesus to come with them because the day was coming to a close. However, there is something very different with Zaccheus!  Jesus Himself invites Himself to the home of Zaccheus and the little guy shimmies down the tree exultant and ecstatic for this invitation that Jesus made of Himself. Right now Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart and he desires to sit down and dine with you. (Rev. 3) Precisely in this moment you are challenged to unlock the door of your heart, open up the door totally and let Jesus come in to be with you. He is the best Guest that could ever visit your home. This you can do every time that you pray, but even more profoundly: every time your receive Jesus into your heart in Holy Communion!  “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!”

5.    REPENTANCE, REPARATION AND PUBLIC CONVERSION.  One of the obstacles in the life of this little man was that he was a big money-man! Indeed Zaccheus was a rich-tax collector, most likely materialistic. To make matters worse, possibly he had cheated or defrauded some people in his not always honest business transactions. But look at his reaction to the people who were criticizing him for his shady and underhanded past! The little guy with big bucks makes a huge change to repair for his dishonest past. Namely, Zaccheus would give half of his money to the poor and if he had defrauded anyone then he would give back fourfold, that is to say, four times as much! Imagine the joy in the Face of Jesus who Zaccheus was contemplating, whose Face he would be warmly conversing with at home that night at the dinner banquet!  Another message for us: repentance, reparation and conversion. We are called to do penance for our past sins, to repair for the evil that we have done in the past and this will manifest more than anything else a true conversion of our lives!

In conclusion, may the little man who ends with a huge heart filled with love for Jesus motivate us to be willing to climb the tree, go out on the limb, and even be willing to blister our palms so as to see Jesus in this life and to contemplate His glorious Face for all eternity!

MARTHA AND MARY: ACTIVE AND CONTEMPLATIVE!


 
 
 
 
 
 
Do you ever worry? If so, why do you worry?  Then next: when do you worry? Still more: does your worrying help you in any way you can think? Finally, what is it that can bring your worrying to a halt? 
WORRY!  The whole reality of worrying so prevalent in these stressful times should be addressed and what is the remedy.
MARTHA AND MARY—“The worrier!”  Jesus had three friends who were sisters with their brother: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  They lived not too far from the city of Jerusalem in a town called Bethany. Jesus was their friend and their guest. Jesus loved these three and found warmth and comfort to go to their home and visit. However, on one occasion surfaces from the heart and lips of Martha worry, worry, worry!


THE REASON FOR THE WORRY?  By nature Mary was more of a contemplative. This means that Mary thrived on silence, reflection, and contemplation. On the contrary, Martha was a ball of energy! By nature very active, Martha liked to get things done. She was a planner and an organizer. A homemaker and cook, she liked things to turn out according to her plans and schedule.
On one occasion Jesus was a guest and apparently Martha was off schedule and did not have things ready according to her preconceived plans. Somewhat nervous, moving a mile a minute, carrying and worrying for Jesus she stopped to observe a scene that really bothered her. Despite the many tasks that were incomplete, her sister Mary was simply sitting before Jesus and apparently doing nothing; or at least Mary was not doing anything very profitable!  Mary was just sitting at the feet of Jesus, even though still so much had to be done!
IMAGINE.  What do you think was undone? Well, it could be that the table was not ready. Maybe in the kitchen the food was not yet totally prepared. Maybe there was not enough water for drinking or washing.  Who knows, maybe the house was not as clean as it should have been!  In any case, things were not ready according to the criteria of Martha; and this was wrong and it had to be remedied and as soon as possible!


HOW TO REMEDY IT!  Martha, the pragmatist and the “doer” had a simple but, what she thought, a very efficient idea: two hands are better than one; or the other proverb: “Many hands make light work.”  Therefore, Martha goes to Jesus to complain, what Martha thought was a very justified complaint!  In any case, the complaint was directed at having things ready quicker for Jesus!  So Martha tells Jesus to tell Mary to help her!  This seems to be a fairly reasonable request, very logical, practical, well-ordered and reasonable!
JESUS’ SURPRISING RESPONSE: A GENTLE REBUKE!   Instead of Jesus telling Mary to get up in a hurry and to help Martha so as to have the schedule run perfectly on time, according to Martha’s criteria, Jesus gently rebukes Martha. Listen to Jesus’ words:  “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things. Mary has chosen the best part and she will not be deprived of it.”
How then can we interpret these surprising words of Jesus that were honestly in favor of what Mary was doing and a gentle fraternal correction to Martha?


INTERPRETATION.  Jesus was not displeased at the attention, concern, hospitality, and hard work that Martha manifested toward Him. Never forget that the Church actually celebrate Martha as a saint, every year July 29th. The point that Jesus wants to highlight in this passage as well as all throughout Sacred Scripture is the importance of the prayer life, the importance of silence which fosters contemplation and union with the Lord Jesus. Martha symbolizes the active life of service to others, if you like the Corporal Works of Mercy.    “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a foreigner and you welcomed me…” (Mt. 25: 31-46) Indeed we will be judged by Jesus on how faithfully we have lived out these works of mercy!
CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE.  However, the life of prayer or the life of contemplation has a supremely important role. It was precisely this that Jesus is trying to teach the world through the incident in Bethany and the tension that existed between Martha and Mary—two very good and holy sisters, but very different in temperament and character!
MARY’S CONTEMPLATIVE POSTURE BEFORE JESUS.  In fact Mary symbolizes all the different gestures we should strive to implement so as to live out a more contemplative lifestyle. Let us reflect upon the contemplative gestures of Mary:

a)    SIT AT FEET OF JESUS.  Mary was simply sitting loving at the feet of Jesus. Contemplative souls long to sit and to be with Jesus for long periods of time!
b)    CONTEMPLATE JESUS. Next, Mary simply gazed into the Face and eyes of the Lord Jesus. The Psalmist expresses this:  “Look to the Lord and be radiant with joy.”
c)     LISTEN TO JESUS.  While sitting in front of Mary we can certainly imagine Jesus speaking to Mary. Try to imagine the way Jesus spoke, the tone of His voice as well as the content of His message. Indeed there is much food for thought!
d)    SPOKE TO JESUS.  It was not a monologue but a dialogue that must have been carried on between Jesus and Mary in Bethany.  This is the essence of prayer to listen and to speak to Jesus—a great definition of prayer!
e)    LOVE.  However, the essence of this encounter between Mary and Jesus in the home of Bethany was love.  Mary loved Jesus totally and Jesus in turn loved Mary as well as Martha and Lazarus.
f)      FRIENDSHIP.  The net result of this loving encounter was a dynamic and growing friendship between Mary and Jesus.
CONCLUSION: WHY OF WORRY??? One of the reasons why we fall into the trap of being “Worry-warts” and end up by making others worry too (Remember, worrying can be contagious!) is that we can easily neglect the contemplative dimension in our lives. We can easily fall into activism. We can fall into the proverbial modern malady that we call the WORKAHOLIC!!!  We can fall into (a new word that I have created related to this topic) MARTHAISM!!! 
Therefore, when you find yourself nervous, tense, emotionally drained, frenetically moving from one activity to the next, like a robot—in a word, you are all stressed out and really bent out of shape, you will know the reason why! You have become too much Martha and not enough Mary. 
A GRACE TO PRAY FOR. Beg the Blessed Virgin Mary for the grace to strike a harmonious blend between the Martha and the Mary in your life, the harmonious integration of a deep prayer life and zealous active life of fraternal charity. May Our Lady the contemplative in the Annunciation and Our Lady actively serving St. Elizabeth help us to strike the harmonious balance between deep prayer and apostolic zeal!  
 




Do you ever worry? If so, why do you worry?  Then next: when do you worry? Still more: does your worrying help you in any way you can think? Finally, what is it that can bring your worrying to a halt? 

WORRY!  The whole reality of worrying so prevalent in these stressful times should be addressed and what is the remedy.

MARTHA AND MARY—“The worrier!”  Jesus had three friends who were sisters with their brother: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  They lived not too far from the city of Jerusalem in a town called Bethany. Jesus was their friend and their guest. Jesus loved these three and found warmth and comfort to go to their home and visit. However, on one occasion surfaces from the heart and lips of Martha worry, worry, worry!

THE REASON FOR THE WORRY?  By nature Mary was more of a contemplative. This means that Mary thrived on silence, reflection, and contemplation. On the contrary, Martha was a ball of energy! By nature very active, Martha liked to get things done. She was a planner and an organizer. A homemaker and cook, she liked things to turn out according to her plans and schedule.

On one occasion Jesus was a guest and apparently Martha was off schedule and did not have things ready according to her preconceived plans. Somewhat nervous, moving a mile a minute, carrying and worrying for Jesus she stopped to observe a scene that really bothered her. Despite the many tasks that were incomplete, her sister Mary was simply sitting before Jesus and apparently doing nothing; or at least Mary was not doing anything very profitable!  Mary was just sitting at the feet of Jesus, even though still so much had to be done!

IMAGINE.  What do you think was undone? Well, it could be that the table was not ready. Maybe in the kitchen the food was not yet totally prepared. Maybe there was not enough water for drinking or washing.  Who knows, maybe the house was not as clean as it should have been!  In any case, things were not ready according to the criteria of Martha; and this was wrong and it had to be remedied and as soon as possible!

HOW TO REMEDY IT!  Martha, the pragmatist and the “doer” had a simple but, what she thought, a very efficient idea: two hands are better than one; or the other proverb: “Many hands make light work.”  Therefore, Martha goes to Jesus to complain, what Martha thought was a very justified complaint!  In any case, the complaint was directed at having things ready quicker for Jesus!  So Martha tells Jesus to tell Mary to help her!  This seems to be a fairly reasonable request, very logical, practical, well-ordered and reasonable!

JESUS’ SURPRISING RESPONSE: A GENTLE REBUKE!   Instead of Jesus telling Mary to get up in a hurry and to help Martha so as to have the schedule run perfectly on time, according to Martha’s criteria, Jesus gently rebukes Martha. Listen to Jesus’ words:  “Martha, Martha, you are worried about many things. Mary has chosen the best part and she will not be deprived of it.”

How then can we interpret these surprising words of Jesus that were honestly in favor of what Mary was doing and a gentle fraternal correction to Martha?

INTERPRETATION.  Jesus was not displeased at the attention, concern, hospitality, and hard work that Martha manifested toward Him. Never forget that the Church actually celebrate Martha as a saint, every year July 29th. The point that Jesus wants to highlight in this passage as well as all throughout Sacred Scripture is the importance of the prayer life, the importance of silence which fosters contemplation and union with the Lord Jesus. Martha symbolizes the active life of service to others, if you like the Corporal Works of Mercy.    “I was hungry and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me to drink; I was a foreigner and you welcomed me…” (Mt. 25: 31-46) Indeed we will be judged by Jesus on how faithfully we have lived out these works of mercy!

CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE.  However, the life of prayer or the life of contemplation has a supremely important role. It was precisely this that Jesus is trying to teach the world through the incident in Bethany and the tension that existed between Martha and Mary—two very good and holy sisters, but very different in temperament and character!

MARY’S CONTEMPLATIVE POSTURE BEFORE JESUS.  In fact Mary symbolizes all the different gestures we should strive to implement so as to live out a more contemplative lifestyle. Let us reflect upon the contemplative gestures of Mary:

a)    SIT AT FEET OF JESUS.  Mary was simply sitting loving at the feet of Jesus. Contemplative souls long to sit and to be with Jesus for long periods of time!

b)    CONTEMPLATE JESUS. Next, Mary simply gazed into the Face and eyes of the Lord Jesus. The Psalmist expresses this:  “Look to the Lord and be radiant with joy.”

c)     LISTEN TO JESUS.  While sitting in front of Mary we can certainly imagine Jesus speaking to Mary. Try to imagine the way Jesus spoke, the tone of His voice as well as the content of His message. Indeed there is much food for thought!

d)    SPOKE TO JESUS.  It was not a monologue but a dialogue that must have been carried on between Jesus and Mary in Bethany.  This is the essence of prayer to listen and to speak to Jesus—a great definition of prayer!

e)    LOVE.  However, the essence of this encounter between Mary and Jesus in the home of Bethany was love.  Mary loved Jesus totally and Jesus in turn loved Mary as well as Martha and Lazarus.

f)      FRIENDSHIP.  The net result of this loving encounter was a dynamic and growing friendship between Mary and Jesus.

CONCLUSION: WHY OF WORRY??? One of the reasons why we fall into the trap of being “Worry-warts” and end up by making others worry too (Remember, worrying can be contagious!) is that we can easily neglect the contemplative dimension in our lives. We can easily fall into activism. We can fall into the proverbial modern malady that we call the WORKAHOLIC!!!  We can fall into (a new word that I have created related to this topic) MARTHAISM!!! 

Therefore, when you find yourself nervous, tense, emotionally drained, frenetically moving from one activity to the next, like a robot—in a word, you are all stressed out and really bent out of shape, you will know the reason why! You have become too much Martha and not enough Mary. 

A GRACE TO PRAY FOR. Beg the Blessed Virgin Mary for the grace to strike a harmonious blend between the Martha and the Mary in your life, the harmonious integration of a deep prayer life and zealous active life of fraternal charity. May Our Lady the contemplative in the Annunciation and Our Lady actively serving St. Elizabeth help us to strike the harmonious balance between deep prayer and apostolic zeal!