Mary and Martha adjusted by the one thing

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When I was a child, I would occasionally awake with a kink in my neck, and my mother would immediately take me to my grandfather, who was a chiropractor. With one adjustment—cracking the neck—everything was aligned and I felt immediate relief—ready for a full, active day at school. In this week’s Gospel, Martha, anxious and worried, was in serious need of an adjustment.

I get Martha. I feel for Martha. I am, far too often, like Martha—bent out of shape. I remember a concerned friend taking my hand, ever so gently, and saying, “You seem so scattered.” I snapped, “Well, of course, look at all that I have to do!” I was like Martha—burdened, exhausted and resentful from having a million things to do. Jesus insists, “There is need of only one thing.” Only one thing—“sitting beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak”—to bring all things back into alignment. When adjusted by the one thing—our relationship with Jesus—we enter the day with the heart of God—centered, calm and compassionate. Several years ago, a friend gifted me with, “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence,” by Sarah Young. This daily devotional orients readers to the one thing. Coincidentally (providentially), for the July 17 reflection: “I have called you to follow Me on a solitary path, making time alone with Me your highest priority and deepest joy. It is a largely unappreciated and often despised. However, you have chosen the better thing, which will never be taken away from you.”

Only when we take time for communing with God through scripture, prayer and reflection, are we able to discern and follow God’s will. As Bishop Robert Barron wrote in this month’s The Magnificat, “We are rightly ordered when everything in our lives—job, family, recreation, friendships, etc.—finds its place around one still point, one center, namely, the love of God.” As parents/grandparents, when aligned with the one thing, we name grace—God’s presence—by creating a home of love and forming our children into disciples. We name grace by leading our children to the one thing through prayer and witness. We name grace by teaching our children to choose the one thing over the many trivial things. As Christians, when aligned with the one thing, we fulfill the great commission by bringing Jesus Christ to all people: comforting the elderly neighbor, befriending the lost teenager, serving the homeless person.

We work diligently for peace and justice, understanding that, “He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord” (Ps 115). Each of us needs a daily adjustment to crack open our hearts and align ourselves with Jesus. When aligned, everything falls into order, and we are able to greet the day with gratitude, patience, peace and compassion. And even those of us who are like Martha, when adjusted, can then serve with a Mary’s heart. Now, that’s good news! What adjustment do you need? How can you better pursue the one thing in your home? Naming Grace in the Domestic Church reflects on the Sunday readings through the lens of a parent/grandparent, aiding parents in their vital task as “first preachers” of the Good News in the home. Prayers for our country, which is in deep need of an adjustment to live as, “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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