First Reading: Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm Response: Psalm 15: 2-5
Second Reading: Colossians 1: 24-28
Gospel: Luke 10: 38-42
The Gospel for the sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time tells the familiar story of Martha and Mary. Martha is busy preparing for a meal with Jesus while Mary sits with him listening while he talks. Martha complains to Jesus that Mary has left her to do all of the work. Jesus responds to Martha telling her that Mary is doing the right thing: she is giving her full attention to him and what he is talking to her about.
I wonder if Jesus was also trying to tell Martha that she should relax for a minute and look at the bigger picture. Is there an undertone in his response that tells us that Jesus heard Martha’s stress about the situation but that her stress was self-induced? Or was Jesus implying that Martha just needed to “lighten up” and weave some free time in-between all of the work?
The proverb “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” tells us that our lives will be boring, and we will be bored, if we don’t take time from our busy work lives to play. Balancing work and play without feeling guilty about it is the number one success factor toward reducing stress in our lives. And the truth is that there will always be more work whether we keep at it continuously or give ourselves a break and enjoy some play time.
Erma Bombeck, 20th century humorist and writer, tells us that if she had her life to live over that she “would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored” and “would have eaten less cottage cheese and more ice cream and “there would have been more I love you … more I’m sorry … more I’m listening … but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute of it … look at it and really see it … try it on … live it … exhaust it … and never give that minute back until there was nothing left of it”. This wise woman figured out that work, work, work is not the recipe for a contented life and, in fact, there is much more to life than being busy.
When you think about your life would you say your work and play times are balanced? If not, do not despair! This can be fixed, and you can fix it! Interrupting your busyness and doing something that is simply fun may make you feel a little guilty in the beginning. This will pass however, as you realize that you are worth it! And, then you will remember that Jesus didn’t buy into Martha’s complaint; he suggested that she use Mary’s approach to the situation. You will be like Mary.
Loving Teacher, we read stories of Jesus visiting with his friends and taking time for himself. We see his example of balancing his time. We try to balance what we do but sometimes we give up our play time and keep working. Help us to remember that play is important to help keep us whole. And if we forget, nudge us gently, or forcibly if necessary, to remember that “Life is not a dress rehearsal” and that we can do something that is fun even if our work is not finished. We pray in thanksgiving. Amen.
Betsy Savare, Associate