Ora et Labora

Today is the feast day of Mary Magdalene, sister of Martha and Lazarus, a former public sinner, converted by Christ to be one of his devoted disciples with rumors of her being his sweetheart, she of whom the Lord said: “Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Jesus was obviously very close to this family who lived in Bethany. He raised Lazarus from the dead, whom he loved very much. He loved Martha who always had something to eat for him. He enjoyed the ministrations of Mary who would always fuss over him. I remember Fr. Green telling us how Mary had chosen the better part.

Often, in our relationship with God, we try to transform Him into our own image and likeness. We try to do things we want and pretend this is God’s will for us. Martha was busy cooking a grand meal for Jesus when He came visiting. Perhaps all he wanted a simple sandwich, rest his weary feet, just talk and simply be with friends. In contrast Mary just stayed with the Jesus, listening to his story while sitting at his feet.

We seek a sign from God and the only sign we get is the signature of his presence: in nature, in others, and in ourselves. How do we see signs of that presence? In my life, I have encountered that His presence first in prayer. Like Mary, I sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to what the Lord is telling me. I have to set aside the worries and the hustle and bustle of daily living and in the silence and quiet, let Him come into my life. Then, I have also encountered Him in the work that I do. Like Martha, I am engaged and become pretty busy in the grind of daily living. 

The path to holiness that St. Benedict taught us is this: Ora et Labora. Pray and Work. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness (i.e. prayer) and all these things will be added unto you (i.e work).

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Jesus, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth.’
Matthew 12:38-42

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