How often do you want to tell God what he’s supposed to be doing? I find myself doing this increasingly, especially now in our unusually mixed-up times.
Martha does it, in today’s Gospel: ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ James and John did it when they said, of the inhospitable Samaritans, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and destroy them?’ Peter did it, when he rebuked Jesus for foretelling the suffering he would undergo: ‘Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!’ Even Mary and Joseph did it when they said, ‘Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.’
Jesus just doesn’t seem to do what any normal, sensible person would.
But then, perhaps that’s because he’s God, and we are not.
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ (Isaiah 55:9)
We have to remember that we aren’t God, and that God has ways of doing things that might not occur to us from our cramped and self-indulgent perspective.
A lot of us think we are God (or at least we ought to be). We want to be able to define things for ourselves. Some of us want to redefine the scope and purpose of marriage. Some of us want to define exactly when a baby can be regarded as a human (or not). Some of us want to be able to decide the manner and the time of our death. Some of us want to subjugate anyone who refuses to submit to Allah. Some of us want to hound Christians out of the public square. Some of us are just very angry at all the other people who are being disagreeable. With all these people wanting to take over God’s role, it’s enough to make anyone anxious, or at least want to crawl into a hole.
Well, in today’s Gospel, Mary has chosen ‘the better part’. She is sitting in rapt attention at Jesus’ feet, absorbing everything he says. Jesus’ advice to Martha? ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said, ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’
If you’re feeling anxious, get close to Jesus. He knows your problems. Trust him to have a plan. If you can’t see his plan right now, immerse yourself in the Gospel and cast all your worries on Him. It’s easier if we remember that we’re not in Paradise yet, and this life wasn’t meant to be comfortable. We only get there if we navigate through life, remaining faithful to Him throughout our quest. God probably hasn’t put you in control of the world, so stick to doing good in the little things you can control – small acts of kindness, for example.
Word format: Year C 16th Sunday 2016
Pdf format: Year C 16th Sunday 2016