My Spiritual Advisor, Inc.’s Mark Kurowski reflects on what we do every Sunday morning. What exactly are we doing every Sunday morning and is it important? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time to find out. Please read Luke 10:38-42. #GreatPreaching #Samaritan #Luke10 #MaximillianKolbe #Sermons #Homilies
Originally published July 2013.
Context: Luke 10:38-42
Context: A Reflection on Luke 10:38-42
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/17/2016 The 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, This is podcast was originally aired on July 21, 2013.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 10:38-42.
Worship is an end in and of itself. Worship is a worthy activity. Worship is not an evangelism tool. Worship is not to charge our batteries (although that may very well happen). Worship is not something that should be neglected. Worship is a necessary thing. Worship is a vital soothing ointment on the soul because it answers the human need of being finite and longing for the infinite.
You may ask me, “Isn’t having something to draw people into a Church a good thing?” Yes, that is why we have Theology on Tap. You may ask me, “Isn’t it a good to have good preaching and get something out of Mass or a Protestant service?” Absolutely! It is critical that priests and pastors know their people and touch their lives with their homilies and sermons. This is all true and I am not negating it. Yet, it still remains true that the people we admire the most are people who stop their day, pray and worship God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. It still remains true that worship is the whole reason we were created, it is our purpose, neglected though it may be.
It is no accident that Luke placed today’s Gospel reading right after the deeds of the Good Samaritan. It is no accident that the parable of the Good Samaritan follows the question, “what must I do to have eternal life?” Martha, according to Jesus, is “distracted” with doing what a woman was supposed to do in those days. Mary, on the other hand, who is acting in the role of a man of that period, was attentive to the Lord. It is no accident that the Samaritan loved his neighbor and Mary, in this story, is loving God. Both are loving God and neighbor with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
It has been fashionable for some time to read this parable and say, “Oh, there is Mary who serves the Lord in her way and Martha who serves the Lord in her way.” This is not what the text says. The passage says that Martha was “distracted.” It says that she begged the Lord to make Mary be “distracted with service” with her. It does not say that these are two equal activities. In fact, Jesus says that Mary has chosen the “good” portion.
In ministry, there is a disturbing trend to make service be the be all and end all of our religion. People seem seriously put out when we ask them to reflect, and Lord help us if we ask them to pray, before we do service! Whenever we forget that the Christian life is a full integration of worship and service throughout the day, then we have forgotten what it means to be Christian. There are times for service. There are times for worship. But really, if we eliminated every activity from Church except what be essential to it, the only thing standing would be worship.
Worship is THE essential activity of the Church. Yet, without social action, worshiping God is nothing more than spiritual self-gratification. When we come to worship, dedicate ourselves to worship, then we ought to love others, indeed. But this passage today says that paying attention, sole focused attention to God is not only important, but essential. That connection with the divine, sitting at the feet of Jesus, like Mary, is incredibly important.
It is in worship that most priests realize, mostly in the second grade, that they should be priests and give their lives to the Church. It is the call to worship that lead the Hebrew people out from enslavement from the Egyptians. It was said that when St. Maximillian Kolbe was placed inside a two foot high Quonset hut to torture him with heat, he sang hymns to the Lord. Why? Why would a man who is being tortured sing and worship? He would because worshiping reminds us that there is something beyond us.
Worship removes us from this life and takes us to the life where we will be with God forever and ever. Worship is perspective. Worship is context. Worship is grounding us in what we need to remember our place in the Universe: there is a God and we are not him. It is remembering that this that should make us be more humble, gentler and more loving toward our fellow human beings. Without this context, then service is just using others for our own self-gratification: Look at us! We just served the poor! Worship turns that notion on its head: no, in the service of my God whom I adore from afar and near, I just tended to the needs of my brothers and sisters, which I should do anyway.
Luke is a genius in the placement of these stories one right after the other. What must we do to have eternal life? We must serve like the Good Samaritan did in last week’s readings and we must worship like Mary in this weeks readings. They must be together, inseparably together.
Go to Church this week one other day than Sunday. Make it a point to worship in your home with prayer with your spouse and children this week. Be sure to pray for the people who are driving to work next to you on the road, or walking into work with you. Take a lunch break and read your Bible and pray. Worship: perspective, grounding, truth. Amen? Amen.
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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian