Sunday, July 21, 2013

Pope Francis: Like Martha and Mary, Christians need contemplation and service

(AsiaNews) Christians, whether they are lay, religious or ordained, need contemplation and service, prayer and "action".  Because without either of these factors all prayer becomes sterile and leads us nowhere: "If we do not work for our brothers and sisters in need, we cannot see the Lord and even in ecclesiastical service we need - as Saint Benedict says - prayer and action". In the last Angelus from St Peter's Square before leaving for Rio, which will host "Youth Week", the Pope continues his commentary of the Gospels.

"Dear brothers and sisters, this Sunday we continue our reading of the tenth chapter of Luke's Gospel.  Today0s passage is that of Martha and Mary. Both offer hospitality to the Lord who is passing, but they do it in a different way. Mary places herself at Jesus' feet, listening, Martha, who allows herself to become absorbed by the things to prepare, and it is so busy that she turns to Jesus and says,  "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me". And Jesus answers gently scolding her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing".

According to Francis, "it is important to understand that this is not the contrast between two attitudes: listening to the word of the Lord, contemplation, and practical service to others. They are not two opposing attitudes, but, on the contrary, both are two essential aspects to our Christian life aspects that should never be separated, but lived in profound unity and harmony. " But then he continued, "why is Marta rebuked, even if gently, by Jesus? Because she considered essential only what she was doing, because  she was too self-absorbed and preoccupied by things by doing". "For a Christian, the works of service and charity are never detached from the main source of all our actions: listening to the Word of the Lord, being - like Mary - at the feet of Jesus, in the attitude of the disciple. And this is why Marta is reprimanded. "

This reflection resulted on Luke's Gospel does not stop at that historical period or the circle of the disciples of the living Christ: "Even in our Christian life dear brothers and sisters, prayer and action are always deeply united. A prayer that does not lead to concrete action towards the poor, sick, in need of help, is a sterile and incomplete prayer. " But the Pope added with equal force "when we pay more attention to doing in the service of the Church, when we give more weight to objects, functions, structures, and forget the centrality of Christ, when we do not reserve time for dialogue with Him in prayer, we risk serving ourselves and not God present in the poor. St. Benedict summed up the lifestyle that he indicated to his monks in two words: "ora et labora," prayer and work. It is from contemplation, a strong friendship with the Lord that the ability to live and bring the love of God, his mercy, and his compassion towards others is born in us. And our merciful action toward our brother brings us toward the Lord, so that we see the Lord in our poor brother. "

Immediately after the Angelus, the Pope greeted the groups and said: "I see written on a sign over there 'have a good trip': thank you! Thank you and I ask you to accompany me spiritually in prayer on my first Apostolic Visit from tomorrow. As you know, I will travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on the occasion of the 28th World Youth Day. There will be so many young people there, from all parts of the world, and I think this could be called the Youth Week. The real protagonists of this week will be the young people. All those who come to Rio want to hear the voice of Jesus, listen and ask him: 'Lord, what should I do with my life?' You too, I do not know if there are young people in the square. Are there? (Here a round of applause interrupted the pope.) You too, young people who are in the square, have the same question to ask of the Lord: Lord, what should I do with my life? What is my path? ".

In conclusion, Francis said: "Let us entrust to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so loved and venerated in that country, these questions: that of the young people of Rio and yours. And that Our Lady will help us in this new stage of the great pilgrimage of young people across the world. I wish you all a good Sunday! Have a good lunch and till we meet again!. "

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