Monday, July 22, 2013

Giving the Lord Our Full Attention

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, we saw how the Lord Jesus is himself our neighbor because he is the one who treats us with mercy. It is this light of being our neighbor that the Lord is shown as accepting the hospitality of his friends. In the first reading, he accepts the hospitality of Abraham. In the Gospel, he accepts the hospitality of Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus. In fact there were other occasions when the Lord accepted the invitation for him to visit homes and eat at the table of friends: he entered into the homes of Simon the Pharisee, Levi the Tax collector, and also Zacchaeus, another tax collector. As the good neighbor, he allows himself to be invited…and even seeks to be invited by us: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” says the Lord, “if anyone hears my voice and opens the door to me, I will enter his house and dine with him and he with me.” He is the Divine Neighbor who accords us the honor of his visit into our homes.

Thus, he entered the home of Martha and Mary. Perhaps, Martha felt so honored with our Lord’s visit that she became engrossed with the details of hospitality. There was nothing wrong with what she did. Hospitality is good. The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us: Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. [Hebrews thirteen verse two] When asked about Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet to listen to him, our Lord did not condemn Martha’s hospitality as evil. Instead, he praised Mary for choosing the better part. What Martha did was good, but what Mary chose was even better. Why is this so?

Martha’s anxiety and worry about many things kept her from giving the Lord her full attention – which was all that the Lord wanted from her. Of course, she served him and looked after his needs. But the Lord did not visit her to be fed. He visited the sisters to feed them with the Words of Everlasting life. Coming in and out of the kitchen, Martha was physically present, but her mind and heart were absent. Choosing to sit at the Lord’s feet to listen to him speak, Mary chose the better part. She gave the Lord her full attention. She was not just present physically. Her mind and her heart were present to the Lord as well. Giving the Lord her full attention, Mary allowed the Lord to transform her by his visit. As Abraham’s life was transformed by the Lord’s visit, so was Mary’s life transformed also by the Lord’s visit. The Lord wanted Martha to do the same – to give him her full attention because he wishes to impart with her the words of eternal life.

And the Lord will do the same for us today. He knocks at the door. He asks that he be received “under our roof.” He wishes to heal our souls and this he will do if only we allow him to enter into our bodies during holy Communion. But once we receive him in Communion, he asks that he be given our full attention. We might waste the potential of this Divine Encounter if, upon receiving him, we rush outside the Church into the parking lot because we are in a hurry to do the chores we intend to accomplish this week-end. Sayang kasi ang bakasyon. But by saying so, we miss the point of the Sunday rest. On this day, we abstain from servile work so that we can give the Lord our full attention. The Sunday rest accords us the opportunity to offer the Lord the time which we usually fail to give him. It is not good to be busy always. We must take time to smell the flowers or better yet, we must take time out to sit at the Lord’s feet to listen to him speak. Give him your full attention. Give him your time. He knocks at the door of your heart. Open it and let him in today and every Sunday. The Lord wants to dine with you today.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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