|So many ways to numb our minds...|
We live extremely busy lives.
In my case, I was telling some friends recently, my wife and I are so busy with our schedules, kids and work that we hardly spend time having meaningful conversation any more.
Between me coming home late, my wife's many businesses (Zumba, translations, real estate, Beach Body), the girls' dancing, our son, household chores, volunteering at our parish, worrying about finances and the daily bombardment of negative news of the unstable world we live in (And, it's not like I can avoid it. I work in news!), often times, we are so overwrought with anxieties and concerns, that we just want to disconnect and medicate ourselves with television, social media or other distractions. We realize it's a problem and are already trying to address it but I'm sure the pace we live is not uncommon.
One recent Sunday, the parish priest at St. Isabel Catholic Church in Sanibel, where we vacation every year, was making that very point in reference to the story from Luke's Gospel.
He said that we are so distracted with tweets, posts, emails, iPhones, iPads and so many other things (and now, as if we didn't have enough bemusement, Pokemon Go comes out!), that we are forgetting and missing out on the important things in life; the transcendent things that really matter.
I tell my daughter and her friends that the millennial generation makes easy targets for terrorists, since they are so absorbed in their virtual world on their phones that a man can be pulling out an AK-47 and loading it next to them and no one would notice!
Furthermore, because our focus is on trivial things, like how many likes our last post got, God and family, which are constants in our lives, are easily taken for granted.
How many times has my news station not reported on a mother or father who forgets their sleeping baby in the back seat of their car, leaving them to die in the scorching South Florida sun? Or of an unattended child falling and drowning in a pool or canal near their home? It happens over and over and we wonder how it can happen?
Yet, by the same token, how many marriages are failing in the United States and kids growing up in single-parent homes for basically the same reason; neglect, distraction, lack of attention?
We let things go because we are too busy doing other things. Things that are less important like posting pictures, sending tweets and answering work emails from home, only to react when it's too late; the baby suffocated, the child drowned, the marriage dissolved.
I think Jesus was making that point in the story of Mary and Martha.
Catholic author and speaker, Fr. Larry Richards always asks in his talks, how do you fall in love with someone? By spending time with them. And, how do you fall in love with God? The same way.
St. Francis de Sales used to say that everyone should spend at least half an hour a day in prayer, except the busy people. The busy people should spend an hour.
It goes back to the Sunday Mass at St. Isabel, where the the priest said we needed to be more like Mary, listening, absorbing and contemplating God, so that it propels us to be more like Martha in service to others; not for the sake of busyness, distraction or to get attention, but out of love, for the sake of another.
Mother Teresa once wrote, "The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace."
And, service begins at home...