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Pope Francis waved after leading the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 30.
Pope Francis waved after leading the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 30.
Photo Credit: Vatican Media

POPE’S MESSAGE | Wisdom of the heart lies in combining contemplation and action

In address after the Angelus July 21, Pope Francis discussed the story of Mary and Martha

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

In (the Gospel passage for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time on July 21), Luke the Evangelist narrates Jesus’ visit to the house of Martha and Mary, Lazarus’ sisters (Luke 10:38-42). They receive Him, and Mary sits at His feet to listen to Him; she leaves what she was doing in order to be close to Jesus: she does not want to miss any of His words. Everything is to be set aside when He comes to visit us in our lives; His presence and His words come before all else.

The Lord always surprises us: when we truly focus on listening to Him, clouds disappear, doubts give way to truth, fears to serenity, and life’s various situations find the right placement. When the Lord comes, He always puts things in order, even us.

In this scene of Mary of Bethany at Jesus’ feet, St. Luke shows the prayerful attitude of the believer, who is able to be in the teacher’s presence to listen to Him and be in harmony with Him. It means pausing a few minutes during the day to gather yourself in silence, to make room for the Lord who ‘is passing’ and to find the courage to stay somewhat ‘on the sidelines’ with Him, in order to return later with serenity and strength, to everyday matters. Commending the conduct of Mary, who “has chosen the good portion” (Luke 10:42), Jesus seems to repeat to each of us: “Do not allow yourselves to be overwhelmed by things to do, but first and foremost listen to the Lord’s voice, in order to properly carry out the tasks that life assigns to you.”

Then there is the other sister, Martha. St. Luke says that it is she who receives Jesus (Luke 10:38). Perhaps Martha was the older of the two sisters; we do not know. But surely this woman had the charism of hospitality. Indeed, while Mary listened to Jesus, Martha is completely caught up in many services. That is why Jesus says to her: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41). With these words, He certainly does not condemn the attitude of service, but rather the stress with which one lives at times. We too share St. Martha’s worries and, after her example, we recommend ensuring — in our families and in our communities — that one may experience the sense of welcome, of fraternity, so that each one may feel “at home,” especially the little ones and the poor when they knock at our door.

Thus, today’s Gospel passage reminds us that the wisdom of the heart lies precisely in knowing how to combine these two elements: contemplation and action. Martha and Mary indicate the path to us. If we want to savour life with joy, we must associate these two approaches: on the one hand, ‘being at the feet’ of Jesus, in order to listen to Him as He reveals to us the secret of every thing; on the other, being attentive and ready in hospitality, when He passes and knocks at our door, with the face of a friend who needs a moment of rest and fraternity. This hospitality is needed.

May Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church, give us the grace to love and serve God and brethren with the hands of Martha and the heart of Mary, so that, in always listening to Christ, we may be artisans of peace and hope. And this is interesting: with these two approaches we will be artisans of peace and hope.

— Pope Francis

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