Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Gospels like this one can be tricky to write about because of their fame. Often, these more familiar Gospels like the story of Martha and Mary along with others like the Prodigal Son, Good Samaritan, etc., can be more difficult to access at a deep and profound level because we already read the passage through the lens of whatever homilies or reflections we have heard on the Gospel in the past.
This is where the genius of lectio divina shines through. Each time we pray through a passage, we are invited to look at it in a new way and not just adopt our blinders of, "Oh, I know what this Gospel is all about."
At face value, this Gospel is simple. Martha is working really hard and is a little annoyed at Mary for just sitting and hanging out with Jesus, and, honestly, rightly so. I had a friend who used to do all of the work in her house while her siblings would often just either be gaming or playing music in other parts of the house. It drove me crazy to watch! I kind of understand Martha's annoyance. But Mary is the one being praised. How unfair! Right?
The point being made by this Gospel is a simple - but not easy - point to understand. For the Christian, our entire perspective, our worldview, the way we approach our every day, should be so filled with the understanding of the reality of Heaven that our goals are completely flipped upside down. Christ comes first in everything. Every joy, fear, failure, suffering is read in light of the fact that someday all of this will pass and only Heaven will remain. This is what Mary understands that Martha too is invited to see more clearly. Ultimately, the stuff that we spend about 98% of our energy each day fighting after, striving for, and worrying over is of zero worth. Absolutely zero. It's a jarring truth, but that doesn't make it less true! The only thing that we will take with us to Heaven is our capacity for love. On the eternal scale, it is the only thing that has any weight to it at all.
I want to focus on two ways that high schoolers can learn from Martha and Mary: anxiously working after worldly concerns and missing the Heavenly realities.
Do you ever feel like you're trying to earn love from those around you? Often, young people struggle with very profound questions about who they are, and if that self is lovable. They can become anxious about their personality; is it "good enough:" funny enough, chill enough, or cool enough to warrant other people's acceptance and love? This is a dangerous trap to fall into because we can adopt a chameleon effect where we just try to make ourselves adapt and look exactly like everyone else around us, even if everyone else around us isn't someone we should actually want to look like. This would be one area of our life where we have to step back from the painful process of trying to shape ourselves into what other people look like and simply let the Lord love us in the wounded places that think we're not enough anyway.
The second place I see young people often anxiously working too hard on temporal affairs is in the hyperactive "success" culture that is present in all of our schools. The message that the world is pounding into you guys is that unless you are the best, the top student, in the most plays, starting on the most teams, then you'll never get into the best colleges. And if you don't get into the best colleges, then you won't get the best jobs. And if you don't get the best (meaning high-paying) jobs, then you'll never be happy because money = happiness. This hyper-focus on perfection, on success, coupled with the constant attention that people have on our lives because of social media (does my life look as exciting as the next person's?) lead to a crippling feeling of "never enough." No matter what I do, it's never good enough. The reason it's never enough is not because you haven't actually achieved enough; it's never enough because it's like drinking sand to satiate your violent thirst! No accomplishment can ever actually satisfy your longing for meaning, purpose, and happiness. Only encountering God in silence is going to actually fill your life with peace. Everything else is noise.
“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.”
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
Do you sometimes feel like you're trying to earn love from those around you? How can you step back and realize that you are loved by God despite those around you?
Have you ever found yourself focusing on your success more than anything else? Is your life hyperactive and busy? What are ways that you can slow down?
What are the things that you let worry you? How can you make time to encounter God in silence and drown out all of the noise in the rest of your life?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Thank you for your love."
"All I need is you."
"You are enough for me."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with Lord bear fruit in you today?
Think of a way that you can carve out time for silence in your life today. Maybe it's right now. Let God speak to you in that silence, and then go forth with the attitude of having sat at the feet of the Lord and let Him love you.
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's prayer was prepared by Tim Glemkowski, Youth Minister at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia, IL.