“Crazy Eyes”

by Rachael Flanagan

“Fire in my eyes”by Lindzan is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Anyone who knows me is also pretty familiar with my crazy eyes. It’s my wide-eyed panicked look that happens when I’m overwhelmed, when I’m anxious and worried. It’s a look that surfaces pretty much daily for me, since it doesn’t take a lot for me to be pushed over the edge into a fluster. One of the times my crazy eyes come out is when I have guests coming over to my house, and I’m in a mad scramble to recreate what I like to call “fake house.” “Fake house” is the clean, orderly, uncluttered version of what our house normally is (mountains of laundry heaped all around, toys littering the floor, play yard taking up entire living room and my children climbing on everything, dirty dishes piled up, etc.) When the clock is ticking until the guests arrive, my eyes are at their craziest as I hurry around, cleaning, folding clothes, organizing (and eventually just shoving clutter in closets). By the time the doorbell rings, if the house appears to be in perfect order, I have succeeded.

In the Gospel this week, two sisters by the names of Mary and Martha welcome their friend Jesus into their home as a guest. There is a little bit of tension in the story because Martha is running around cooking, cleaning, preparing everything – and Mary is sitting and chatting with Jesus. Martha gets angry and says “”Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” To give this a little more context, Martha isn’t just popping a frozen pizza in the oven. This is 2,000 years ago, so she’s making everything from scratch (even though Jesus probably would have been content with chips and salsa). And there is her sister. Just. Sitting. 

Does Jesus say “Mary, why don’t you help a sister out?” He does not. Jesus says to her, “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.” 

I have to admit, that doesn’t seem fair. I’m kind of on Team Martha. Someone’s gotta do the work – right? Well Jesus doesn’t say that he doesn’t appreciate the effort she’s put in, it’s just that there is something even more important. And that’s the person of Jesus Christ.

There are a lot of lessons we can take from this.  One is of course that we should make time to pray every day and not get so caught up in everything we have going on in life.  But I think another application of this idea is that we should be present to those around us.  How many times are we sitting in the same room with someone having a half-conversation with someone, but we’re texting someone else about what we’re doing later that night? Or we might be watching a show when our mom comes in to tell us something important, and then not remember what she asked us to do, though we know how the episode ended.

This week, let’s take some time not only to pray, but to be present to those around us.  Let’s put our phones down, pause the movie, make some eye contact, and we might just find ourselves connecting with our friends and family more than we have in a long time. 

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