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THE RIGHT BALANCE BETWEEN WORK AND PRAYER

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

Jonah 3:1-10 & Lk. 10:38-42

When Jonah eventually preached repentance to the Ninevites they acknowledged their guilt, doing penance, fasting, wearing sackcloth and sprinkling ashes on themselves. Then followed an interior change; they turned from their evil ways. Finally, they accepted the truth that God would respond to their repentance, in any way He wished.

It is worth noting that Jonah did not believe that the Ninevites would respond positively. How often is this not true of us? We sometimes doubt God’s power to touch hearts that are hardened by sin. We are afraid to preach a message of repentance for fear people will not listen nor accept it.

Sometimes some of our family and friends have strayed from the Lord and we doubt if there will ever be conversion. We should pray for them and ask the Holy Spirit to give us opportunities to encourage them to come back to the faith. You never know but some may respond with unexpected speed or in a way we had not considered. The important thing is that we must not give up hope. We must never forget God’s mercy to us when we have repented and proclaim His steadfast love that endures forever.

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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