Tuesday in the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time at Mississippi Abbey

Scripture Readings: Gal 1:13-24;  Lk 10:38-42 

Today we remember St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusian Order, another contemplative community in the Church. The gospel of Martha and Mary is appropriate to this memorial. As Pope St. John Paul II has noted, all revelation has two essential elements: the subordination of humans and their activities to God and the relationship between the moral good of our acts and eternal life. That could also be said about the Rules of Life given by St. Bruno and by St. Benedict.  A Rule of Life confronts and contradicts the affliction of self-centeredness that we received at the fall of Adam and Eve. We cannot live the Rule from our own strength or good will. So, the scriptures and the Rule were given that grace might be sought; grace was given that those might be fulfilled.

When Jesus came to the home of Martha and Mary, each woman had to decide how to use her freedom to respond to His presence. Each sensed an interior prompting and that interior prompting sets one’s freedom in motion. It happens to each of us, too. Martha used her freedom to serve; Mary used it to contemplate the presence of Jesus. Jesus calls Mary’s use a choice of the “better part.” That used to be understood as affirming the superiority of the contemplative life over the active ministry. That is no longer the case. Ones way of life is a response of love to the many gratuitous initiatives taken for us by God out of love. We experience them as good. A response is what counts. The good that attracts and obliges us has its source in and IS God. What is “the good”? It is belonging to God & obeying Him.

The chief obstacle to this is the idea that self is about self. So, we experience self as a burden. One goes to God by unburdening oneself of the bondage of self, of constant thought about self. One way of doing that is by service to others. There, one has to co-ordinate various resources. The “better part” Mary chose was that of unburdening herself by contemplating Christ. Everyone may do that. This unburdens because contemplation is thought only of the other.