Thursday, July 30, 2009

St. Martha And Pope Benedict

Yesterday was the feast day of St. Martha. As such, we got the following reading from Luke 10, which really doesn't paint our saint of the day in a very flattering light:

Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary. who, sitting also at the Lord's feet, heard his word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? Speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.

I'm probably reaching a bit here, but this reminded me a great deal of what Pope Benedict has been talking about in the latest encyclical. Jesus comes to town. Martha immediately busies herself with taking care of the food and housework stuff (or something like that). Mary has chosen to contemplate and adore. Martha gets upset. Jesus straightens everything out.

The significant bit here is that Jesus indicates that what Mary has chosen is better. He didn't denigrate Martha's work. He just reminded her (and us) that there is a hierarchy of goods, and Mary's actions were farther up on the scale.

When we encounter Jesus in our daily lives, it is often in the context of His words at the Judgement:

For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry and fed thee: thirsty and gave thee drink? Or when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in? Or naked and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

Matthew 25

Clearly, it is good that we take care of their temporal needs. However, in light of Christ's words to Martha, aren't the supernatural needs of higher priority? In fact, just ignore the whole eternal fate of their souls issue for a moment. How can such people even partake of the best part like Mary unless they are first evangelized?

They can't. In fact, it seems to me that it would be a sin to deprive them of such an opportunity. Not evangelizing is to purposely stunt their development as a person because you are cutting them off from the best of things.

How is that not the message of Caritas in Veritate?

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