Friday, July 29, 2011

Feast of St. Martha: Serving and Feelings

There are some gospels or themes about which I imagine I might never hear a new or original thought in a homily. One of these themes is that of St. Martha. Of course, one does not need to hear a "new" thought in order to meditate on Scripture, but it helps me to hear something I don't expect to hear. A new connection makes meditation more productive for me. And Father's homily this morning presented one of these opportunities to me.

He said, as if talking to Martha, "When you are busy serving this person and that person and doing these charitable things, do you stop and think, 'How do I feel about the person I am serving?'?" That really struck me. His point was drawn out of Martha's words, "Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn't have died" and the sense that we, like Martha, can be busy serving and miss Jesus present with us. But it really struck me, this notion of being present to one's emotions in the midst of working, of service. I thought of the conversation that brought about this post ("I Need to Trust my WHAT?!"), when last Fall I faced how I have habitually handled emotion. I immediately saw the wisdom in what Father was saying this morning, and what the other Father had said to me last November (Marie, you need to learn to trust your feelings.)

I thought of times when I had followed certain courses of action, not just for a moment but for a long time, while trying to ignore my emotional cues that something was wrong. I don't for a moment believe that when one is doing God's will it feels good 100% of the time. Sometimes doing God's will is terrifying. But that's just one feeling. Choosing to compromise one's soul, choosing to cheat, choosing to be lazy, choosing to vent anger, choosing to go all boneless chicken and let someone else call shots I should be calling -- these all come with feelings, too. And it's so easy to rationalize away one's sins by calling objectivity as one's defense. I'm being friendly; that's a morally good thing. I'm serving Jesus dinner; how could there possibly be any fault in that? Well, but where's that heart? Hmm? And how can you tell if your feelings, if your self-awareness is anesthetized?

The soul can be a very confusing place, a very disordered place. It is when we bring it to Christ that order is possible and starts becoming a reality. Part of that process of bringing our souls to Christ is to be aware of those emotions, acknowledge them, and start being honest about them before the Lord. You know, Lord, when I'm trying to be friendly to this person, I can't escape a sense of being used/prostituting myself/cowardice, etc. What is that, Lord?

The very cool thing about being in a relationship with Christ is that this question doesn't just reverberate back to me. I pray, I read and hear His Word. I live. I'm open. He leads me. He teaches me. He speaks to me. He answers the question. It isn't navel gazing; it's living with Jesus.

Jesus with us. That's what He was trying to say to Martha. I'm with you; does that register in your soul?

No comments: