October 4, 2022
by Vivian Amu
Creighton University's St. John's Parish
click here for photo and information about the writer

Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi
Lectionary: 462

Galatians 1:13-24
Psalm 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15
Luke 10:38-42

Praying Ordinary Time

About St. Francis of Assisi from Saint of the Day

“I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made; wonderful are your works.”—PS 139: 14b

We are set apart and called as children of God to love. That love may be shown by serving others with vigor and zeal or sitting at the feet of Jesus to listen. The nature of our modern-day lives challenges us to balance our desire to serve others and our desire to stop for a while and rest at the feet of Jesus. Whenever I read today's Gospel, where Martha is doing all the work and Mary is relaxed and seemingly unconcerned, I see myself taking Martha's side. This might be because I am first-born, and by default, I was responsible for many house chores growing up. When I visualize myself in the Gospel scene, I am always the one working and never the one resting at the feet of Jesus. Being like Martha, I remember feeling the same way about my sisters when doing chores at home as a teenager.

However, despite Jesus' comments, I don't think he was disregarding Martha’s efforts and work. I don’t think Jesus was trying to say serving and doing the necessary work wasn’t important. I think Jesus wanted Martha to feel free to rest close to him and be cared for. I think Jesus wanted Martha to know that there is a time for everything, and right now, stopping for a while, resting, and taking time to listen and be nourished by his words, would be the better thing to do at that moment. It is easy to find ourselves running around, hustling to get everything done and to try to solve everyone's problems. However, what would it be like to stop worrying about everything, even for a day? Would it be possible for us to do so? What would it be like to be tended to by the Lord? What would it be like to rest at the feet of the Lord and listen? Would we have the courage to put aside everything, including the to-do lists, to let go, and rest? Would we have the courage and inner spaciousness to hear what Jesus has to say without needing to be busy doing something else instead? We have no need to be anxious about our lives. We have no need to worry about tending to everything all at once. Everything will be done in its own time and all we need to do at the moment is allow the Lord to care for us; we, children of God, who are all precious and special in God’s eyes.

Speaking of being special; I have never really thought of myself as anyone special. In some circles, I am too short, too fat, too skinny, not smart enough, too boring, not pretty, intimidating, too black, or not black enough. There is always something that sets us apart or aside in different ways. We might even initially experience being different as a negative. We might want to do what others are doing to feel part of something or normal, whatever normal may be. We might want others to do what we are doing, so we might feel that our choices are not so out of the ordinary, and therefore normal. However, God, who took the time to fashion every aspect of our being to make us as special and as extraordinary as possible, might wonder why we don’t see ourselves as wonderfully made with greater purpose. God might wonder why we want to be ordinary when we are made extraordinary.

As for me, I would imagine that as I manifested from the breath of God to the warmth and safety of my mother's womb, God smiled while thinking of what I would look like and be like. God thought, “I will make her not too tall and not too short.” “I will give her a milk chocolate complexion and strong features that stand out.” “I will give her strength to endure her pains throughout her life, even though she might think she is not able to bear her pains.” “I will make her not too boring and not too excitable, that way she maintains her mystery, and people would want to get to know her better." What do you see when you look in the mirror, especially on the days you don’t feel particularly special, strong, or extraordinary? What do you see in the mirror on the days you feel overworked or underappreciated? Can you imagine the smile on God’s face when you were being knit together in your mother’s womb? Can you imagine God’s enjoyment while thinking of who you would become? Come rest in my arms or by my feet, says the Lord, and let me nourish your soul, tend to your heart, and tell you how lovely you are. May we find ways to balance our desire to serve and our desire to rest at the feet of Jesus, knowing we are wonderfully and specially made with greater purpose.

Merciful and loving God, who loved me before I was born and loves me still;
May I sit at your feet for a moment and be nourished by your words.
This I humbly ask through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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