Daily Reflection
July 29th, 1999
Richard Super
Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38
John 11:19-27
Luke 10:38-42

Today’s readings speak to me about service, giving of oneself to others for the greater glory of God.  Moses serves his people by listening to God’s voice and then following His instructions in building a Dwelling for the ark of the commandments.  Psalm 84 then exalts, “How lovely is your dwelling-place, Lord, mighty God!,” a God whose constant presence to the Israelites leads them in their journey.  Finally, the Gospel reading from Luke 10 commemorates Martha on her day in the Church’s calendar by re-telling the famous story of her complaint to Jesus that her sister Mary was not doing her share of the serving chores, but rather only sat with their honored guest, rapt in His words.  Jesus’ response was both gentle and provocative:  “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things; one thing only is required.  Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it.”

I suspect that most of us are more Martha than Mary, busying ourselves with all our daily tasks, certain that we are doing more than our share, neglectful of exerting similar effort and energy in developing a deeper relationship with God.  That surely was my perspective recently while helping out at a summer camp in Wisconsin for a group of fifteen inner-city students from the Jesuit Middle School of Omaha.  The pace was hectic, the chores many and myriad, the challenge something like herding sometimes stubborn goldfish.  There came a point when I wondered if my efforts were worth it.  Would any of this really make a difference in these boys’ lives?  Did any of them even appreciate what we were doing in the here and now?  Martha would have been proud of my consternation.

Today’s Gospel reminds me once again of the meaning and purpose of true service.  It is not to be measured in how much it accomplishes or what changes it affects in others.  In striving to build God’s Kingdom in this life, I can only till the soil to make it fertile (or build a dwelling to make it “lovely”), so as to give others a better opportunity to choose God.  What I can accomplish and the change that I can affect are internal.   What God asks of me first and foremost is my love and my fidelity to His Word.  I can demonstrate and foster that by service to others, but the focus remains on Him.

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