Both Mary and Martha required

By Linda Zahorik | July 18, 2013

It seems pretty clear. This Sunday we should strive to be “Mary,” coming to Mass and being in quiet contemplation with the Lord.

Now who can argue that doing such is for the “better part”? However, the liturgy would certainly be different from what we are accustomed to because “Martha” won’t be there to unlock the doors, set the heat, turn on the lights, put out the vessels for Mass, light the candles, enlist the lay ministers, lead the music, take up the collection or set out the doughnuts!

So perhaps what the Gospel is saying is that we need to be both a Mary and a Martha. We need quiet, reflective, intimate time with Jesus, but we also need to do the work of the church.

Our actual celebration of the liturgy does require us to be both Martha and Mary.

Martha was a person of hospitality and so should we be when we arrive at church. Now is the time to greet and welcome one another and to carry out the Mass preparation assignments given to us.

Then the liturgy, the work of the people, begins. Our first job is singing the gathering hymn, giving our full attention to the presider and joining in the responses.

The Liturgy of the Word gives us the opportunity to have the heart of Mary as we sit at the feet of Jesus listening to the words of the Scriptures and the lesson of the homily.

Our inner Martha is roused again as we work at calling to mind all who need prayer, the church, the government, all people in need, and Martha is with us as we contemplate, how much from the work of our hands this past week, we will place in the collection basket.

One would think that the eucharistic prayer would be Mary time, but actually praying the eucharistic prayer is very hard work. We work to keep our minds attentive to the words that tell of Christ’s saving victory. We work hard to maintain the proper gestures and sing the proper response. This is not the time for quiet contemplation, but rather a time of bold prayers of praise and thanksgiving.

The Communion rite is at the very heart of our Mary, for this is the moment when we can be united mind, body and soul to the divine presence. We are Mary in awe before our God, without words as we contemplate his love in unfathomable measure. It is this time that strengthens us and gives us vision for the work that lies ahead. This is the moment when we know God has created us as a Mary within a Martha and it is the better part.

Zahorik is pastoral associate at Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh.

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