Dare to Compare

July 17, 2016

It seems that everywhere we turn, we are called to compare one thing to another.  It begins with shopping.  Lowest prices ever are the biggest claim.  Compare our prices to theirs.  You cannot find a better deal; we will match your lowest price.  Everyone is confident that they have what is best for the lowest cost.  They dare us to compare.  Our young people can be brutal when they dare to compare friendship.  The “In” clique is often polarizing to a school community.  Growing up at Fenwick, we had those who were in sports and those who were not.  Within the sports teams there was a dialogue about which team had the highest grade point average, the cross country team or the swimming team.  All of this comparison made some people choose as to which side they wanted to belong.  The same might be said of Cub fans and Sox fans.  While some say both, many are divided, even within families.

With all of this in mind, we enter the story in today’s Gospel. Martha wants to be validated in her choice to do the serving.  She wants Jesus to choose her, yet He doesn’t. While He isn’t saying Mary shouldn’t be about helping, neither is he saying that what Martha is doing is not important.  It is.  What Jesus says very clearly is that Martha is “anxious and worried about many things”.  This is the key insight.  What Martha is doing is not leading her to peace.  What Martha is doing is comparing herself to Mary and setting up a no-win situation.  Jesus wants us to find peace in what we do.  Only in peace can there be happiness and joy.  Many would love to have cooked a meal for Jesus and seen it as the highlight of their life.  Many would have found joy and peace in setting a wonderful table and inviting the Lord to dine.  Many others would have found joy and peace in the fact that they created an environment for Mary to have a special time with the Lord. What Martha is doing is comparing the work and not seeing the goodness and blessing within her work.  Both things are necessary.  We need to accomplish things and we need time to sit at the feet of Jesus.  None of us have been called to a monastery to live in seclusion at the Table of the Blessed Sacrament.  We have been called into the world.  What we do in the world must lead to peace.  It must lead us to a connection of the great good of faith within ourselves or within those who surround us.

So often when we are asked to choose, there is a winner or a loser.  It is either/or. In the Kingdom of God, only one thing matters–we are called to follow the Lord and experience His joy.  The gateway to joy is seeing peace flow from our activity and what we do each day.  Parents have this built into their vocation.  Their children need them.  The children rely on them.  They cannot take a day off from this vocation.   When they are able to see it as a joy, when they see themselves as creating an environment for God’s chosen life to prosper, it all changes.  We are to find the things that lead us to peace.  It is not either/or, but both/and.  Nothing is excluded from God’s presence.  In all we do, may we find peace.

Rev. John J. Ouper