17th Sunday in Ordinary time

Last Sunday we heard about Jesus visiting two sisters, Martha and Mary. The first one was busy making dinner while the second was listening to Jesus. Of course, Martha was irritated by the behaviour of her sister and finally complained to Jesus. But he told her that she worried too much about many things and that Mary had chosen just one better thing to do. Today’s gospel develops this idea.

People in today’s society have became much more impatient than our predecessors. This is a side effect of technological development. We don’t have to wait days or even weeks to send and receive letters, because we can use email. I can phone and talk to anybody  instantly thanks to mobile phones. Using the internet I and my mum can see and talk to each other, despite the fact she’s 1500 miles away. These inventions (and many other) are extremely useful, but it means we tend to lose the ability to wait and be patient. We want and demand an immediate effect to everything we do.

This may have a destructive effect on our lives, again as a side effect. The ease of using credit cards – even if we don’t have money – lets us buy things that we really don’t need; but we find this out later. The ease of sending emails or using a mobile phone lets us send or say stupid things that insult or upset someone; but this only comes to light on reflection afterwards. Personally I have a rule for myself: if I have to send an email about something unpleasant, I keep it for at least three days; if I have to talk about something unpleasant, I do it standing face to face, not by phone. Quite often I delete the email and quite often I abandon the idea to talk.

Today’s gospel speaks about prayer. The Apostles ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. He replies giving them something that we know as the Lord’s Prayer. We have to be very careful about it; the power of this prayer doesn’t come from the words. Prayer is not a kind of spell that has power to enchant God and make him obedient to our will. I’ve come across people who were very careful in saying the rosary; they didn’t want to miss any “Hail Mary”; probably they thought that the number of “hailmaries” must be exact or “the prayer” is not valid. I have to admit I say the rosary usually during my walk (but never driving a car) – it helps me to collect my thoughts and concentrate on one thing (quite often a homily for the coming Sunday – maybe I should stop saying the rosary…). Honestly I don’t care if say one “Hail Mary” too many or too few times; it really doesn’t matter. What really matters is that in some way I open my mind for spiritual inspirations.

Maybe besides using these very helpful modern inventions we should find time to pray. Certainly it doesn’t give an immediate effect (sometimes it does, but not very often); but in the longer period of time it will keep us mindful and eventually helps us to live our lives well.