New book from Fr. Rudy.
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16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 22, 2007 - Year:C
Gen. 18:1-10a; Col. 1:24-8; Lk. 10:38-42
There is need of only one thing.
“The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as
Abraham sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of
the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing
near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent
entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.
said, ‘My Lord, if I find favour with you, do not pass
by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash
your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me
bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves,
and after that you may pass on - since you have come to
your servant.’ So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’
Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Make
ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it,
and make cakes.’ Abraham ran to the herd, and took a
calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who
hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and
the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them:
and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
They said to Abraham, ‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ And he
said, ‘There in the tent.’
one said, ‘I will surely return to you in due season,
and your wife Sarah shall have a son.’” [Gen. 18:1-10a]
am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in
my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s
afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the
became its servant according to God’s commission that
was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully
known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the
ages and generations but has now been revealed to his
them God chose to make known how great among the
Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery,
which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is Christ
whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone
in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in
Christ.” [Col. 1:24-8]
“Now as Jesus and his disciples went on their way, he
entered a certain 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
But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came
to Jesus 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.’ “[Lk. 10:38-42]
An elderly carpenter was ready to retire.
He told his employer, a building contractor, of his
plans to leave the house building business and live a
more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended
family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to
retire. They could get by.
His employer was sorry to see his good
worker go and asked if he could build just one more
house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but
it was easy to see that his heart was no longer in his
work. He had lost his enthusiasm and had resorted to
shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was
an unfortunate way to end his career.
When the carpenter finished his work and
his boss came to inspect the new house, the contractor
handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is
your house," he said, "my gift to you."
What a shock! What a shame! If he had
only known he was building his own house, he would have
done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the
home he had built none too well.
So it is with us. We build our lives in a
distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to
put up less than the best. At important points we do not
give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look
at the situation we have created and find that we are
now living in the house we have built for ourselves. If
we had realized, we would have done it differently.
We all have the capacity
to do only one thing at a time. But we are all
distracted, aren’t we? Distracted thinking about others.
Even when we are in the church, we are too much
concerned about what others wear? How do they look? What
kind of ornaments they wear? All these distractions and
added worries of home, work, relationships etc. This is
our life. All the time we live in such a hectic way that
we lose our health and lose our temper and we
continuously lose our steadfastness.
is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better
part, which will not be taken away from her.” [Lk.
10:42] Intentionally or unintentionally, Mary chose the
better part, to listen to the Word of the Lord that
enriches the soul.
never said, Mary has chosen the best part. He just said
that she chose a better part than Martha. Martha would
have been equal to Mary if she had not grumbled. Work
and Prayer both are important, but when we do two things
together, then the focus lessens and we would be in
trouble and at the same the work done would be of lesser
There was a man whose daily task involved carrying water
and chopping wood. He was a simple man, but he was beset
with a lot of tension and anxiety. This took a toll on
his work and once, while chopping wood, he chopped off
his toe. On several occasions, while carrying water, he
broke earthen vessels. Well, there came a guru to that
region, claiming that he would help people reach
enlightenment. That news reached our woodchopper and he
decided he would meet the guru and give him a try. The
villagers were astonished that this simple man was
taking such a bold step. They came up with all kinds of
reasons for his sudden behaviour. But that’s a different
story altogether. When the woodchopper returned after
spending close to six months with the guru, the
villagers were very keen on learning what this
enlightenment really meant. Their curiosity turned to
gossiping. Some of the villagers wagered that
enlightenment or no enlightenment, he would continue to
work as before. Soon their words seemed well-founded -
there were no real signs of difference in the man
and in his work. Finally, the villagers decided to ask
the man about his attempt at enlightenment, and whether
he had really attained it at all. The woodchopper
replied, ‘Before enlightenment, I was chopping wood, but
in the process of chopping wood, I wanted to chop off
the heads of many of my enemies. Now I am chopping wood
and nothing else. Before when I carried water in earthen
vessels, I imagined myself to be a great person,
carrying a lot of fame, name and honour. Now, when I
carry water, I just carry water and nothing else. In
fact, my guru taught me just that, and he called it
Real Situation in Life
Our life often becomes a chain of anxieties and worries.
We must get to the top. We must impress people. We must
come to terms with our problems. We must get the better
of others. Often our anxieties revolve around our
struggles to get all that we desire in life. We never
seem to exactly understand what is meant by freedom,
liberation or enlightenment, even though we desire them
wholeheartedly. Somehow we want to take on more, even
though we are busy doing a thing or two at the same
We are called to Freedom or Enlightenment
Enlightenment is the birthright of each and every
individual. We are all called to be free. Why then are
we so anxious and worried about things that have no
importance at the moment? When we speak of freedom,
enlightenment or liberation, we speak from our heart and
mind. We must try to do only one thing at a time, in
order to experience something of these noble values of
The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best
of everything; they just make the most of everything
that comes their way, and they do this simply because
they have learnt the art of doing one thing at a time.
You cannot be happy, when you do many things at a time.
To make the most of everything, you must try to do a
thing fully and, absorbingly. You must enjoy it
thoroughly. Happiness can come to us only when we enjoy
what we do. And this requires that you do only one thing
at a time.
We Are Accustomed
We are often accustomed to do many things at a time.
This behaviour has become a part of our life, due to a
number of reasons our early formation, childhood,
pressure from home and school, and perhaps, also from
our own society. We recall our childhood when we were
pushed into doing too many things at a time. Failure to
do them meant that we would be punished and not
appreciated. Well, complying became so much a part of
our life that we just imitated what others were doing,
losing out consequently on a lot of freedom and peace.
The Better Part
When Jesus visited the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha,
there was a moment when Martha complained about things
that Mary did not do. To make her point, she pointed out
that fact that she had been left alone to do the
serving. Jesus was very appreciative of Mary because she
listened to him, where as he was not so happy about
Martha, even though she was busy in serving him. In the
process of answering Martha, Jesus opined that Mary had
chosen the better part, and what Martha really had to do
was focus on the one thing that she was doing, namely
serving. He affirmed that Mary
had chosen only the better part, not the best one.
Dispersion of Energy
We need to plan, always. We need to plan the day, the
present hour, the present moment. Nothing should be
amiss. Yet, at times, we are pushed into certain
unforeseen works. That can’t be helped, because life is
like that. But what we can also do is to make it a habit
of focussing our attention on doing only one thing at a
time. This attitude can generate serenity within us, and
we can hope to accomplish a lot of things in a day.
Often we need to give much attention to programs already
in place. If you notice, you do your best in programs
fixed a month, a year or two or three years in advance.
Never give up a commitment you have accepted, unless
unavoidable circumstances or situations arise. Keeping
commitments is the reflection of faithfulness, which
pleases God, and paves the way to freedom and peace.
Attention to Priorities
Steven Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly
Effective People, gives a series of suggestions, as
to how we can use our time and talents. In one of his
suggestions, he brings out forcefully the importance of
paying attention to fixing priorities in life and
getting them realized. We should never sacrifice
important things at the cost of less important things.
The whole of our attention should be focussed on our
priorities, without sacrificing the preciousness of
being attentive to ourselves at all time.
Moderation means not going to extremes. In this modern
world, we miss this virtue of moderation. We are all
victims of overdoing certain things. I can point out a
few of the things that practically do not allow us to be
at peace with ourselves. Television programmes and,
serials, eating, drinking, and talking habits, and also
certain habits that are wasteful and sinful.
Regularity involves following a consistent routine.
Regularity helps build us up. When you are occupied with
a number of different things, you tend to feel
exhausted, defeated, and at times, even psychologically,
and spiritually depleted. Regularity in activity is a
must if we are to maintain some kind of balance in life.
Look at Jesus, he would go early in the morning to pray,
and then again at night when he was alone and all was
Rest means rest. When resting, you do not do
anything more than just recline and let go. We all need
to learn the technique of resting. We know that in the
midst of a strong storm, Jesus rested, and when the
disciples roused him, he said, “You people of little
faith, why were you worried?” Then to calm them and free
them from fear, Jesus stopped the storm and stilled the
ocean. Can we really rest in the midst of a storm?
Practically not, right? If you can, then that is the
outcome of your deepened faith in God.
view of our better understanding of “There
is need of only one thing,” and “Mary has
chosen the better part, which will not be taken away
from her,” [Lk. 10:42] let us fix our eyes on God so we
too may be spiritually enriched. May this week be rich
in blessings to all of us as we strive towards the need
of only one thing, hearing the Word of God so we may
productively live our faith in Christ. May the grace of
God be with all of you this week to do only one thing at
New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a
serious exegetical study on the important words and
texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The
study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic
and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to
EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph
Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East,
Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can
be ordered through email:
The cost of the book is Rs.
125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE
DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on
St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza,
OCD, MA. PhD.
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