Gal 1:13-24; Ps 139:1-3,13-15; Lk 10:38-42
In the responsorial psalm, selected from parts of Psalm 139, we pray that the LORD guide us along the everlasting way. We plead repeatedly for the LORD to guide us because we repeatedly get lost. Even when we are not lost we could well be distracted along the way, and by the way, where exactly are we going again? The LORD who guides us, knows us, even better than we know ourselves. He probes us, searches us, and he knows us. The LORD is aware of our stillness and our movements; he knows us inside and out. Even from a distance, we are transparent to the LORD. Indeed, the LORD is well acquainted with all our habitual movements. He is so familiar with us that he is our other self, perhaps even our better self. The LORD has formed us in our mother’s womb; from the first moments of our humanity we belong to both our God and to our mother. Even before our mothers gaze lovingly into our eyes the LORD has seen us face to face. Even for these days in the dark and wet womb, we are grateful for life. We are grateful that our mothers did not find us to be an inconvenience, hate us, resent us, and kill us in her womb. We give thanks that we are so fearfully, wonderfully made. Indeed, all the works of the LORD fill us with awe and wonder. Even the inmost depths of our souls were fashioned by the hand of God, Our Father, in the secret place, in the depths of the earth. Indeed such natural beauty is repeated and expanded in the mystery of our spiritual development. Like the sister of Martha in today’s gospel we have learned to sit still before the twenty icons of his mysteries and listen to him speak to our hearts of the one necessary thing. If we have chosen the better part, it will not be taken from us. Indeed, we will come to know the LORD who probes us and knows us because we probe him and his mysteries in the depths of our hearts, day by day, and year after year.
Saint Paul had a good reason to persecute the Church of God. He saw it as a threat to his faith, and the faith of his ancestors. He was afraid that this itinerant preacher, Jesus, would draw faith filled people of God away from the covenant. Indeed, Saul was progressing in the true faith of Israel with a zeal greater than all his contemporaries. This fervent formation in the faith of the covenant only served to set up Saul for a great fall. He had been nourished from his mother’s womb with the milk of the Spirit who hovered over Israel and all her prophets. Such a firm foundation in the Old Testament made him ready in mind and heart to receive the revelation of the Son of God, so that he might proclaim him to the Gentiles. Saint Paul did not immediately consult anyone who had been called to be an Apostle before him. Instead he retreated into Arabia, into the solitude of the desert to savor the sweetness of his Lord Jesus Christ and to appropriate the startling new relation he had with God in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. When his early formation was complete he felt the need to go up to Jerusalem and confer with the Twelve. After his conversion and the affirmation of the Apostles he was sent by God into the churches of Judea. These brothers and sisters began to glorify God because of Saint Paul, “the one who once was persecuting us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.” For Saint Paul it wasn’t a matter of “if you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em.” For Saint Paul it was necessary to share what had become the greatest treasure of his whole life, the dying and rising of the Lord Jesus. It was the compelling mystery of the love of God in Christ that motivated Saint Paul to suffer great hardships for the sake of preaching the gospel. Indeed, Saint Paul discovered that the cross was his only friend. Because in the Crucified, Saint Paul was able to place all the burdens of his ministry and through this union of his suffering with the suffering of the Lord Jesus he became one with Christ, one in his suffering, in his joys, in his light, and in his glory. Such a transformation is not just for Saint Paul, it is for everyone who savors the mysteries and is transformed by such contemplation.
This story of the two sisters, Martha and Mary, is one of the ways that Saint Luke teaches us about prayer in his gospel. Indeed, Saint Luke of all the synoptic authors spends a great deal of his gospel teaching every generation of disciples how to pray. Indeed, one of the most important aspects of the hospitality of prayer is to pay attention to the divine guest, to savor his presence and to be nourished by his word. Constant attention to the details of hospitality can keep us from being hospitable. Martha found her service a burden; Mary sat beside the Lord Jesus and served him by attentive listening. Even though there are necessary duties to prepare and offer hospitality, we still need to give ourselves to the Divine Guest who has come into our home. Indeed, in contemplation, we let go of the process of prayer and let the LORD pray in us. The only thing needed is that we taste and see that the LORD is good. No matter what we have to offer him in our hospitality, he offers us only himself. What more could he offer? When we are filled with awe and wonder in his presence, then we learn to trust him in all danger, even the present danger presented by those who hate us and seek our destruction.