This Sunday’s readings speak of that intimacy and friendship we are called to have with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We may not think of intimacy with God as something we can have, but the Scriptures witness to the fact that God does want us to draw closer to him. All we have to do is ask and seek and knock for it. Unfortunately it is we who are always finding ways to hide from him, saying we have no time, or other excuses we all use. At any rate, in our first reading Abraham welcomes three visitors. It is pretty obvious that this is a divine visitation. Abraham knows who they are and they dine with him, a sign of friendship and welcome.
In our Gospel, too, the Lord is dining with Martha and Mary. He is not putting down Martha’s expression of love for him, by the way; but simply stating that in listening to the Lord, Mary has chosen the better part. This Gospel probably secretly rankles some of us who were raised with siblings who seemed, from our perspective, to always have an excuse for getting out of their chores or, even worse it seemed, we had to do them, but neither should we think of this as an excuse for not serving. What is being said here is that both prayer and service are important, but that our service should flow out of our listening and our love for the Lord. As the Catechism says:
CCC.2745 Prayer and Christian life are inseparable, for they concern the same love and the same renunciation, proceeding from love, the same filial and loving conformity with the Father’s plan of love; the same transforming union in the Holy Spirit which conforms us more and more to Christ Jesus; the same love for all men, the love with which Jesus has loved us. “Whatever you ask the Father in my name, he [will] give it to you. This I command you, to love one another” (John 15:16-17)
Origen wrote, “He ‘prays without ceasing’ who unites prayer to works and good works to prayer. Only in t his way can we consider as realizable the principle of praying without ceasing.”
In closing, I really want to encourage you to read the Catholic Catechism and what it has to say about the Battle of Prayer. You can find those paragraphs on prayer in paragraphs 2725 right through to 2745. I found it very interesting; I’m sure you will too. You can find the catechism online; just type in “Catholic Catechism.”