Entrance Antiphon: Ps 54(53):6, 8 — “See, I have God for my help. The Lord sustains my soul. I will sacrifice to You with willing heart, and praise Your name, O Lord, for it is good.”
First Reading: Gn 18:1-10a — “Lord, do not go on past Your servant.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 15:2-3, 3-4, 5 — “He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.”
Second Reading: Col 1:24-28 — “The mystery hidden from ages has now been manifested to His holy ones.”
Alleluia: Jn 6:63c, 68c — “Alleluia, alleluia. Your words, Lord, are spirit and life; You have the words of everlasting life. Alleluia, alleluia.”
Gospel: Lk 8:15 — “Martha welcomed Him. Mary has chosen the better part.”
Communion Antiphon: Ps 111(110):4-5 — “The Lord, the gracious, the merciful, has made a memorial of His wonders; He gives food to those who fear Him.”
I remember reading way back when I was in middle school a story entitled “The House of Mirrors.” Now, I don’t honestly remember the author’s name … it might have been one of those stories where the author is unknown. But anyway, as I remember the story, there once was a nice old dog … He wasn’t fierce, but he wasn’t timid either. One sunny late July day found the dog wandering the grounds of a county fair. He meandered into a fun house full of mirrors. As he looked around, he saw that he was suddenly surrounded by hundreds of other dogs. He began to panic and bark. All the other dogs also panicked and barked. The noise became louder. The dog snapped at the closest dog and tried to bite him ... but at the same time that dog tried to snap and bite him. The barking got louder and louder. The din and clamor could have lasted all the rest of the day … but eventually, the dog’s master came looking and calling for him. When the dog finally saw his master and heard his familiar voice, his tail began to wag, and he began to jump up and down for joy. As the dog’s master led him home that evening, the dog thought to himself, “Maybe the world isn’t as fierce as I thought!”
Let’s face it. Dealing with daily activities, with daily tensions, and with daily responsibilities ... all of it can sometimes be overwhelming. So, in the midst of that, how do we find the time to both live and also to give some of our time back to God … in other words … to go to Church and to pray? (and I know with that statement I’m preaching to the choir, so to speak, this evening / morning)
In today’s society, we all know that daily responsibilities, work, school, sports and other extracurricular activities are sometimes considered sacred. Sometimes, it is truly believed that they come first, to the exclusion of God and of the Commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day. But we try to be as responsible as we can. If we have family and loved ones, those activities mean we do our best to support them. Often there seems time to do little else.
But what each and every one of us has to realize is that our constant call to prayer is sacred too. As busy as we may be, each of us has an inner need to pray. We need to find time to be in communion with our Loving God. The question is often … how can we do both? The secret to living a full life is a good Catholic answer … it isn’t an either / or decision, it’s a both / and answer … it has to be a combination of both ways … and unfortunately there are so many distractions, sometimes it may seem impossible. That’s what today’s Scripture passages are trying to tell us.
The story of Abraham teaches us that as busy as he was, he made time to care for the three visitors. (And Scripture scholars have since identified those three individuals … God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit). Abraham made time for them … he made time for God. And as a result, his efforts were blessed.
Martha and Mary show us that the tensions between our physical and spiritual lives are constant. These tensions and distractions are there, and always will be. To ignore them can be a spiritual mistake. Acknowledge them. Don’t ignore them. Embrace them … but as the story in this weekend’s Gospel tells us … Mary had found the better part.
Perhaps we all need to take a mini time-out. Here’s is a little exercise on concentrating: I’m going to ask you all to try to focus on some object in the room or maybe just on a pleasant color. Focus on that object, think of nothing else … [pause] ... how many seconds went by before you were distracted by other thoughts? [pause] … when is he going to end the homily? I hope the inside of my car doesn’t feel like the fires of hell after this Mass … where are we going for brunch? or what am I going to make for dinner? … It’s not easy, is it?
Like flies buzzing around when we need to quiet ourselves and concentrate, distractions can be frustrating. Allow the “flies” to buzz to their hearts’ content. Don’t try to stop or swat them. After some time has passed, they suddenly won’t seem so bothersome. Remember the dog in our story. Once he heard his master’s call and familiar voice, he was immediately calmed. Once we hear God calling us … once we hear God the Son … things will become calmer. Honestly … I speak from experience here … not just as a Priest preaching a sermon … prior to deciding to investigate a vocation to the priesthood. I was just trying to find something to fill the spiritual void in my life ... I joined a Catholic lay group which among other things, taught me to pray with Sacred Scripture. It was really hard at first. I’ll be honest. It took a lot of patience and discipline. But the more I did it, the easier it became
Prayer, like so many other things, is an art. It takes practice … in other words you need to pray … everyday. It takes time to master, only time. How much, you wonder? That depends on the person. One analogy I sometimes use is that you’re training to run a marathon. Now, on day one of training, you don’t set out to run 26 miles, do you? You start with shorter distances and gradually build until you reach your goal. So perhaps start with five (5) minutes of quiet time with the Lord and gradually increase it. The important thing is that you invest the time, no matter how much or how little. Our loving God knows you are trying and will reward you. I guarantee it.
Living our daily life and our prayer life is a delicate balance. Let yourself swim in the stories of Abraham, Martha and Mary. They can be wonderful guides, as we continue to live within the way of Jesus.
Today we are invited to live our lives as deeply and lovingly as we can, despite life’s distractions. Jesus was fully present to both Martha and Mary. As we celebrate the Real Presence of Jesus in today’s Eucharist, our loving and compassionate Savior is with us, too. As you hold the Communion we share in the palms of your hands, ask Jesus to guide you and hold you in His hands as well.