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THE RIGHT BALANCE BETWEEN WORK AND PRAYER

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Gal. 1:13-24 & Lk. 10:38-42

St. Paul was an unlikely candidate for launching the early faith Christian missionary outreach to the Gentiles. He had been a Jew among Jews. Before becoming a Christian, he had been totally devoted to the Jewish faith. In fact his persecution of the early Christian church reflected his fanatical loyalty to the Jewish community and its religious traditions. How ironic that this pious Jew would be the very means by which the Gospel was extended to the Gentile world. Paul never ceased to be amazed at the dramatic reversal of his life. But he knew that none of the dramatic changes in his life had come as a surprise to God. God had chosen him for his high calling before he was born. Paul was destined for greatness before he had any idea of what his life’s work would be. What we can learn from Paul’s calling is that the very things that we seem most incapable of achieving are still within our reach. As long as we follow where God leads us we are not condemned to repeat the failures of the past.

In the story of Martha and Mary in today's Gospel Jesus wants us to achieve the right balance between prayer and activity. In his Rule St Francis wrote, “Those friars whom the Lord has given the grace of working, shall work faithfully and devotedly, in such wise that avoiding idleness, the enemy of the soul, they yet do not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all temporal things ought to be subservient”. I am sure those words were the result of his meditation on this story of Martha and Mary because he saw not only the necessity of work but also the greater importance that should be given to prayer.

Mary chose the better part. What made her do this? It was because she loved Jesus so deeply. She was overawed by Him. The moment she saw Him she wanted to be with Him. She saw Jesus as a lovable and knowledgeable Person Who had so much to teach her. He made her feel good, strong and safe. She was never lost or bored when He was around.

We could ask Mary to help us feel the same way about Jesus as she did in our moments of prayer, particularly when we sit at His feet, gazing at His presence in the tabernacle. May Jesus call our name and say, 'You have chosen the better part'. When you pray recall the words John put in the mouth of Jesus, “Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears Me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share his meal, side by side with him” (Rev. 3:20). Could we ask for anything more?

Lord Jesus, teach us to have the right balance between work and prayer, to realise that prayer is always more important than work and to remember, each day, to offer up our prayers, works and suffering for the intentions of Your Divine Heart.

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