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For the love of God

Last Sunday’s message about the love of neighbor as oneself is correlated with the other great commandment of the love of God with one’s whole being. This Sunday’s gospel account (Luke 10:38-42) now considers what the love of God basically consists of for the disciples of Jesus.

One thing needed

Martha’s behavior, setting the stage for the proper delineation of the fundamental love of God, should not be anachronistically interpreted in terms of medieval and monastic ideals: the “active” life as opposed to the “contemplative.” She was plain overburdened in trying single-handed to look after the needs of the company of Jesus just arrived, not only preparing the food but also providing for amenities like water for the washing of feet and hands and oil for the anointing of the head. She approached Jesus and complained about His apparent lack of concern about her taxing situation, and with some resentment demanded that her sister be told by Him to help her. Martha has made her “busyness” her principal concern, and she expected others to join in with her, but Jesus thought otherwise.

Jesus clarified that Martha is worried about many things, which however important remain mundane and passing. One cannot allow oneself to be disoriented. Even amid the many worries of life, it should not be forgotten that there is one thing really necessary. That is what is indicated by Mary’s activity: sitting at the feet of Jesus and diligently listening to His every word. “Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it.” It is now no longer simply an argument between two sisters about distribution of works. The issue is now the seeking of the kingdom of God (Luke 12:29-31). This is the one thing necessary for everyone—the eternal life of communion with God. As the psalmist puts it, “One thing I seek: to live in the house of Yahweh all the days of my life, to enjoy the sweetness of Yahweh” (Psalm 27:4).

Listening to the word of God

Mary at the feet of Jesus demonstrates that she is one like a disciple, studying under Him and learning from Him. That is what every true disciple must do: be seated at the feet of the master with undivided attention. In the company of Jesus the one thing required to belong and to be happy is to be a listener and hearer of the divine word. Hearing the word of God and acting on it is the character Jesus looks for in those whom He counts as His brothers (Luke 8:21). It is the measure of the fruitful disciples that they embrace the word with a generous and good heart (Luke 8:15). In fact, true blessedness is for those “who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:28).

To love God with one’s whole heart, soul, mind and strength means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, who is God’s Word Incarnate. And single-hearted attention to Him is essential for any disciple, not a preoccupation with material things. An apostolic endeavor or service that skips listening to the word of God is doomed to irrelevance and without lasting value. Being an intent listener of Jesus is the “better portion” really needed that will never be taken away or be superfluous.

Alálaong baga, Mary at the feet of Jesus, as especially narrated by Saint Luke, is the model disciple who has learned that to love God with all one’s being is to listen to Jesus and live accordingly, because “one does not live from bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3 in Matthew 4:4). One cannot attain to a life of communion with God except through and with Jesus Christ, God’s Word made flesh who dwelt among us (John 1:14).

Join me in meditating on the Word of God every Sunday, from 5 to 6 a.m. on DWIZ 882, or by audio streaming on www.dwiz882.com.

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