Let’s meditate on the truth that we make time for what we love. This helps to explain why we don’t do things that we want to do. Why don’t I read more? I tell myself I’m too busy. Yet, in truth, I don’t love it as much as I love exercise, which I never miss.
Why do we miss prayer so often? Because we don’t love being with Jesus. The proof is that, when we’re on vacation, we don’t spend more time in prayer. We do other things that we love more. Is the reason we don’t spend more time with our family because we don’t love them—is that true? Perhaps.
When we look at the Gospel, we see who loves what. It tells us that “a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home… 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’” (Lk 10:38,40). Martha is a saint, let’s be clear! She’s one who makes time to welcome Jesus, and, in St. John’s Gospel, she’s the one who has amazing faith in Jesus. However, in St. Luke’s Gospel, she’s ‘distracted.’ She loves Jesus, but not enough to let go of her work and do what’s more important. The reason Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying” (Lk 10:39) is because she loved that more than good work.
Jesus says, “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” (10:41-42). ‘Distracted’ and ‘better’ are the key words. We’re distracted by good things, which we’re not supposed to stop, but put them in right order.
How much time should we spend in prayer daily? At least 15 minutes. Even if we have young kids? Yes. Because, if I were to call you on the phone, you’d give me 15 minutes. You’d say to your family that you’ve got to take this call. Once we realize that Jesus is calling us daily, then we’ll answer the phone. And, as we grow, we will increase the time we spend in prayer.
Our culture rationalizes our distractions. Many people have heard of the Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield, who has done much good in his field. However, in his own book, he refers to himself as a ‘largely absent dad’ (An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, 297), and he has a small section about his family life being secondary to his career (146-147). I can’t read his mind and heart, but the overall tenor is that his career was first, and he doesn’t regret it. Our culture puts career above family all the time, and this affects us.
But Jesus gives clarity when He says ‘there is need of only one thing.’ The Church has always viewed today’s Gospel as showing how the contemplative life is higher than the apostolic life. People who are called to a life of prayer and contemplation are doing something higher than someone like me who spends most of his time helping other people. Both are good, but one will last longer. In heaven, I won’t be helping other people; I’ll be loving them, but our focus will be on praising God. So, I’m not supposed to stop my ministry because it’s good and it’s my vocation, and hopefully my path to becoming a saint, but I shouldn’t neglect my prayer to serve all of you.
Two weeks ago, I mentioned the four-times Fittest Man on Earth, Rich Froning. He said in his book that his priorities are faith, family, fitness, in that order. He wrote, “When we have kids, I won’t neglect them or fail to spend enough time with them. Both of my parents were there for me when I was growing up—and they still are—and I’m going to do the same for my kids” (First: What It Takes to Win, 254). And, as soon as he and his wife adopted a girl, he retired from individual competition.
The truth is: We make time for what we love. All of us can ponder if we’re neglecting anyone: Jesus, our parents, children, etc. The Holy Spirit puts it on our heart, and we need to avoid rationalizations, but pray about what we love.
Don’t be discouraged, but let today’s truth be motivating. Tell yourself that you do love Jesus and your family, and so you should change your actions.
During the announcements, we’re going to show a video about the Hallow app, which is considered to be the best Catholic prayer app available. I must say that I’m deeply impressed at how it teaches us to pray with different methods, and how we get to input how much time we have to pray, what our goals are, and our preferences for prayer.
This Sabbath Summer is the time to reveal the truth: If we go to Mass, pray more, spend more time with family, in exercise, it will be because we love those people and things. We make time for what we love.