A famous pop music singer came out with a song called “Born This Way.” Lady Gaga struck a nerve with many with her lyrics about struggling with her distinctives that made her feel “different.” Her anthem declared “everybody is special and they were born this way.”
Of course, in our ego-driven fallenness, so many interpreted the words of the song as saying it’s OK to affirm your own “specialness” regardless of the ultimate lack of wisdom of such self centered narcissism or where such would take us. To be sure, we are all created in the image of God and all humans, regardless of their faults, are of infinite worth. But that reality doesn’t convey goodness on our staying the same.
Look at a very familiar passage that is today’s Lesson in Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28:
At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Everybody knows this story well, and all of us identify with either Mary or Martha at some points in our lives.Frankly, I’ve identified as “both” even in the same day! But the power of this passage isn’t in merely seeing yourself as on or the other; it’s actually hearing the wisdom from the Lord as to what are the keys to growing in your faith and choosing the healthiest path.
First notice Jesus prioritizes communion over busyness or even heredity! Jesus doesn’t say that Martha’s work is bad or even useless, but He does say that Mary has chosen the “good portion.” Isn’t that a wonderful phrase, “good portion?” It communicates a prioritizing of time and energy to get the most of the moment. To be sure, being a good hostess is important. Serving your guests is good. BUT, being at the feet of Jesus when He’s right there in your house is a better use of your time and energies at that moment. How many times have we prioritized something else, even a good thing, over being with God in prayer or worship? We lose the “good portion” by not focusing on the moment we are in, and we miss the ability to move from frenzied worry to peaceful communion with God and each other.
Next, I love how the Lord deals with the amazed cry of the woman in the crowd! It reveals so much wisdom and insight into real spiritual and emotional and even physical growth. The lady in the crowd wants to say how wonderful the Lord’s mother is, and Jesus redirects her praise to the proper reason WHY His mother is to be praised – Hearing the Word of God and keeping it! Jesus redirects the woman’s sincere words to the heart of how we humans are called to grow in our relationships with each other and our relationship with God. We are called to stay awake to the reality that, if we are going to remember the “good portion” and spend focused time with God, we actually then have to follow through with that discipline by “keeping” the Word we hear.
So, the keys to solving mine and your dilemma of moving from one place to another in our spiritual growth is the ability to discern when to sit and when to move. That can only come from a concerted and focused commitment of allowing the Faith to reorient your priorities and actions. And that’s going to take you exercising your will to put the practice of your Faith FIRST before all other priorities and become “like” Jesus Christ!
Today, aren’t you tired of spinning your wheels stuck in the rut of “well, that’s just the way I was born?” It’s time to learn how to discern when to sit and when to move. Do this by becoming Orthodox on Purpose!
Oh, how I needed to hear this word this morning Father Powell. Thank you very much.
Me? Created in the image but in sin conceived.
Thank you! The two readings in Luke for this day seemed to be at odds with how we should regard Mary, and they had me confused. You explained it perfectly.