Mind and heart

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10 October 2017

Today’s gospel has to be one of the most loved stories in the New Testament.

Perhaps that’s because it resonates so loudly with the experience of any family, anywhere in the world. Who hasn’t been in an argument about fairness when it comes to dividing up household chores? Many of us relate to Martha and her irritation at her sister. Remember that Jesus travelled with his disciples. We can assume that there was quite a crew in the house. There was Martha, running around trying to welcome people, to provide water for washing hands and feet, take drinks orders, prepare and serve food… And what’s Mary doing? Nothing! She’s just sitting there, gazing, listening, being in loving awe of Jesus.

If you were Martha, wouldn’t you be annoyed?

I invite you to now consider this wonderful story from the perspective of your own journey in prayer. Consider this idea: Martha represents our mind, Mary our heart.

I don’t know about you, but so often when I sit down to pray my mind starts whirring with all of the pressing concerns, deadlines, needs, opportunities, issues around family, work, Church, the state of society… Good Lord, there is just so much to do!

This is where I need to hear the words of Jesus addressed to my mind:

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 
There is need of only one thing. 
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

The grace of prayer is to make the journey from the mind to the heart, to be in the place where Jesus is and simply to gaze at Him, listening. We need the Holy Spirit to help us with this of course. It’s too hard in our own strength. There are other helps too. For many centuries, Christians have used the gentle repetition of simple, Spirit-filled words and phrases to help them enter into the prayer of the heart.

There really is a lot to do, but for the Martha of our mind to be capable and effective we need to spend time each day engaging the Mary of our heart.

Spend time listening to Jesus today!
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