Monday, July 22, 2013

Mary and Martha

The homily I heard at Mass yesterday brought tears to my eyes. Father just hit the nail on the head so many times. The gospel reading was the familiar story of Mary and Martha. Jesus is a guest in their home in Bethany. Martha is bustling around, preparing dinner and making things ready, while her sister is simply sitting at the feet of Jesus. It was this Mary that I was thinking of when I decided that I needed to take time to cease studying and preparing for homeschooling, and just pray. Martha wants Jesus to make Mary help her, and she is resentful of having to do all the work alone. Jesus tells Martha that Mary has chosen the better part, and he will not take it from her.

This story seems like a simple admonition to get our priorities straight, to put Jesus first. Yet Father went deeper and said something I had never thought about. What this story also illustrates is a role revearsal; here we see that Jesus has become the host. Mary and Martha's house belonged to Jesus, and today my home belongs to Jesus. If I let him be the host, then I know what I need to be doing. I can sit at his feet first, and from there I will know better how to serve him.

Father talked about hospitality. Do our modern devices--television, cell phone, computer, etc... own us? Are we really just using them as helpful tools, or do they rule our lives? How many times has my own child wanted to talk to me, and she had to wait while I finished reading something, or typing a blog, or checking Facebook? Right now she is at a mini summer camp, so I can write without distraction. And before she went, I resisted turning on the computer right away and had my coffee with her while she ate breakfast. Now I need to work on praying first before I turn on the computer or do housework or anything else as well!

What I have been doing lately is observing our habits. How can I improve my own, and then how can I help my child (and my husband) develop better habits? If children are used to doing certain things as a matter of course, then I think there would be less resistance when it is time for bed, or to put toys away, or to take their dishes to the sink after a meal. Yes, it takes diligence on the part of a parent to provide the necessary repetition to instill good habits, but the positive results of less work later, and having self-disciplined children, seem to me to be well worth the trade off. But first we must be willing to role model the good habits we would like to see! Keeping in mind that just because a child sees us making our bed does not mean that eventually she will be inspired to make her own. Our job is to follow through with our children.

Father's message at church was one of hospitality--"mi casa es su casa"--my house is your house. We need to row the boat using both oars, the oar of work and the oar of prayer. We must find balance in our lives. I want my house to belong to Jesus. If I let him serve me, then I can serve him, and serving him means serving my family well. Balance also means not allowing crazy-making into my life. One person misinterprets something, and someone else reacts irrationally to it, and next thing I know I am thrown off course. The devil does his work too well. I need to do mine better. The only solution is to go to God in prayer and to his word. Over and over again until that is my habit.

When I look at my family today, I see people who are imperfect but who are happy, healthy, and thriving. I see solid relationships. I also see too much dog hair on the floor, but that's okay. Today I will sweep it up. No one has a right to come into your home and steal your joy or rob you of your precious time, whether that is literally or via the technology we too often idolize. And if my home is Jesus' home, how can I be served by him and serve him if I am worrying over the crazy-makers? How much am I willing to let into my home-haven? How much are you?

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