Reflection on Sitting and Listening

As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 NRSV).

This Gospel narrative contains St. Benedict’s Ora et Labora (pray and work) way of life. St. Benedict taught that prayer and work are connected to each other and not meant to be separated. The message in today’s Gospel and what St. Benedict taught suggests that work is first and foremost a prayerful partnership with God in the occupation of co-creation. If our work is to be truly profitable, then it should bring us to a closer relationship with God.

Jesus is not scolding Martha. I suggest that Jesus is telling her that working too much can take us away from allowing God to feed our souls. A contemplative individual takes time in solitude and silence to quiet our interior self, to help us listen for the Holy Spirit more attentively outside of ourselves. St. Benedict teaches us to listen and “incline the ear of the heart” so we can focus on listen for Jesus in all aspects of our lives. We need to listen for God in our work, relationships, personal challenges and daily responsibilities. We are not expected to get everything correct. The spiritual life is not a matter of achievement awards or scholarly discoveries. God calls to us in the deepest spaces of our lives, to respond to God’s invitation to make a home with God within our essence.

How are you seeking union with God through your life of prayer and work?


Peace be with all who enter here

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

You are invited to view my website to learn about my ministry of Spiritual and Grief Companionship. If you or someone you know could benefit from my ministry, please contact me.

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