Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
I’ve had a strong connection to this verse for a long time. At my Baptist school the graduating seniors got to have their life verse printed under their picture in the yearbook. I always loved browsing through and seeing which verses people felt strongly connected to. I didn’t stay on at that school for high school, but if I had to pick a life verse it would be Hebrews 1:11.
There’s something kind of mystical about this verse to me. I’ve been blessed to have a few moments in life where I definitely felt called by the Holy Spirit to travel down a certain path. To some this might seem a little strange. How could you know? Wasn’t that just you? After experiencing both, of feeling guided in certain instances and then in others left to make my own decision, I can say that there is definitely a difference, and it’s rather astounding.
I’m a big fan of Emerson’s writings. He is not Catholic, but I find his life and work very interesting.* He wrote that:
Our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual. Yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.
When I watch that flowing river, which, out of regions I see not, pours for a season its streams into me, I see that I am a pensioner; not a cause, but a surprised spectator of this ethereal water; that I desire and look up, and put myself in the attitude of reception, but from some alien energy the visions come.
And in those moments of discerning, the realization that I was hoping for these things to work out was not just because it was what I wanted, but also because it was what I was being called to do. There’s a beautiful kind of mesh that occurs in which I’d like think that these were things that I also wanted to do, but maybe, just maybe, the whole thing was totally the Holy Spirit guiding me. Isn’t that amazing to think about? That the Holy Spirit could guide us in such a way that we don’t even know because we think it’s our ‘own path to follow’ and then perhaps one day we will have the humility to see the truth: there are no such things as ‘my interests’ or ‘my life’ but rather there are merely ‘my God-given charisms’ and ‘my life according to God’.
Another verse I really like is Romans 12:6 which backs this up.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Every gift and charism we have was given to us for a purpose. It’s easy to look around and wish that you had other gifts or charisms, but it’s crucial to recognize that what we have been given has been intended precisely for us and it is no more or less important.
Sermon 497 via Word on Fire
Fr. Barron says that this story of Martha & Mary has been interpereted in 3 different ways.
1) The active life vs. the contemplative life. Martha as symbolic of the active life (ministries). Mary as symbolic of the contemplative life (monks, nuns, scholars). Has Jesus valorised the contemplative life over the active life? Fr. Barron: Throughout the Bible, it is a basic principle that listening has to come before acting. Is is more of a chronological relationship than one that is in tension. What is the Lord saying? Once we know, then we are ready to act, even with the best of intentions. Currently, we have a Martha-oriented society which is why today so many are questioning this story and defending Martha.
2) The one and the many as a philosophical and spiritual issue. Mary has chosen the one thing, unum necessarium, necessary. Focus on the one thing necessary allows other things to fall into place. Harmony and order will come. Martha is anxious over many things, while Mary is anchored in the one. Are you about one thing, or many? Do your manys come into one for the will of God?
[I’m currently on Book II of St. Augustine’s Confessions and found the above sentiment also present: “…while turned from Thee, the One God, I lost myself among a multiplicity of things.”]
3) (N.T. Wright) Jesus’ teaching focused on the overturning of social convention. He dealt kindly with Roman soldiers, touched those that were unclean, the radical inclusion of women in his inner circle, he spoke publicly to the woman at the well, etc. The first witnesses of the resurrection were women. Martha was in the conventional women’s space. Mary assumed the stance of a man in the men’s space. Invites women into the full participation in a life of discipleship. “In Christ there is no slave or free, Jew or Greek, male or female.” (Paul) Everybody is summoned to discipleship and this is the most important consideration of all.
Key message: Don’t let anyone’s expectations, or social conventions, deprive you of this better part. We are all called to discipleship in many different, but equally important ways.