Body and Blood of Christ


Drinking Well




Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  S had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord's feet and listened to him speaking.  Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself?  Please tell her to help me." 
     But the Lord answered, "Martha, Martha," he said "you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.”                                                          Luke 10:38-42



It was a remarkable moment.  Two hundred thousand people were gathered in St. Peter’s Square. They were enthusiastic and they called out, ‘Francis! Francis!’  It was the vigil of Pentecost and many of the audience belonged to the new lay movements who had gathered in Rome from many parts of the world.  Pope Francis was answering questions that they had submitted.  As he answered one of their questions he said: ‘I would like to take the opportunity now to make a small, but fraternal, reproach, among ourselves, alright? All of you in the square shouted out: "Francis, Francis, Pope Francis " ..But, where was Jesus? I want to hear you shout out: "Jesus, Jesus is Lord, and He is in our midst." From now on, no more "Francis", only "Jesus". Alright?’

Sitting and listening
     That meeting of Pope Francis with all those people was like the meeting of Jesus with Martha and Mary in their home.  In both instances there were words of reproach – spoken on each occasion with gentleness and affection, ‘Martha, Martha, you worry and fret over many things..  ‘No more Francis, only Jesus, alright?’ 
     During his visit to their home, Martha served Jesus and Mary sat and listened to him; in his words to the people in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope stressed how important it is to listen to Jesus in prayer and to serve him in the poor.
     He told them that as a child, he and his sister would sit and listen to his grandmother as she told them about Jesus and taught them the catechism.  On Good Friday in the evening, she would take us to the candle-light procession, and at the end of the procession, she would make them kneel down before the crucifix, and she would say: "Look, he is dead, but tomorrow he will rise up!" 
The most important thing
     At the centre of the Gospel story was Jesus: Mary gave him her whole attention and Martha was fretting to give him the very best meal that she could.  As he spoke in St. Peter’s Square, the centre of the Pope’s attention was also on Jesus. He said that the most important thing is Jesus.  If Jesus is not in our plans, we will be on the wrong road.  Then he added, ‘Always with the Lord, speaking with the Lord, with Him in the Eucharist, in the Bible, in prayer.’

Sometimes I nod off
     The story of Martha and Mary is a story about prayer. Both Martha and Mary prayed.  Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened; Martha spoke to him with a complaint and with a request.  Pope Francis told the people ‘to look at the face of God, but above all to know that you are being looked at in turn. The Lord looks at us: he looks at us first.’  He said that this is his own experience: ‘this is what I experience in front of the Tabernacle when I go to pray in the evening, before the Lord. Sometimes I nod off a little bit, No? It’s true, because the strains of the day’s work makes you fall asleep. But he understands me. I feel so much comfort when I think that he is looking at me.
     We think that we have to pray, talk, talk, talk ... No! Just let the Lord gaze at you. When he looks at us, he empowers us and helps us to witness to him.’
    The Pope gave another glimpse of his way of praying: He said, ‘Mary our mother leads us to the Lord. Let us ask her, as our mother to make us strong. The one thing that makes me stronger every day is to pray the Rosary to Our Lady. I feel great strength because I go to her and I feel strong”.
Let the Lord guide you
     It is important to allow ourselves to be guided by the Lord; this is more important than any plans or calculations of our own.  Martha planned the meals without asking Jesus what he would like.  She exhausted herself preparing many dishes.  If she had asked him, Jesus would have told her that a few dishes would be sufficient, or even one, and that would have given her time to sit and enjoy his company as Mary did.
Going to the outskirts
     What Martha was doing was vitally important too. She served; she put the food on the table.  From the time he was elected, Pope Francis has stressed the necessity of going outside of ourselves in order to serve others.  One the eve of Pentecost he told the people that the human race is in a profound crisis: ‘where the death of a homeless man or a starving child does not make news headlines but a drop in the stock market is treated like a national tragedy. We must not isolate ourselves in the parish or among our friends.  The Church must go out to the outskirts of existence itself."

Touching the flesh of Christ
     As truly as Martha served Jesus at her table, so we serve Jesus when we serve the poor.  When we truly serve the poor, we touch the flesh of Christ.  When he would hear Confessions, Pope Francis said he would always ask : “Do you give alms to the beggars on the street?” “Yes, father”. "Ah, good, good!”  And I would add: "Tell me, when you give alms, do you look into the eyes of the person you are giving alms to?"  "Ah, I don’t know, I haven’t noticed." My next question: "And when you give alms, do you touch the hand of the one to whom you give alms, or throw the coin and [wipe your hands]?’  The Pope concluded, ‘Never be a Church closed in on itself.  Be a Church that goes outside, which is on the outskirts of existence. May the Lord guide us there. Thank you”.

Brendan Clifford - St Martin Mag July 2013 II

                                                                            Brendan Clifford


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