Tuesday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
“Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
In discussing, or learning about, the Catholic Faith, there’s often talk about how the Faith’s saving mysteries have a “both/and” dynamic at work. The Church does not believe in reaching Heaven by “faith alone”; nor does she believe that one can earn Heaven by means of good works. The Church’s perennial approach to the dynamic between faith and good works is “both/and”. Likewise, Jesus is not a God who appears to be human, nor a human being that appears divine. Jesus Christ is “both/and”: fully divine and fully human.
Today’s Gospel passage raises another central duality among the Church’s saving mysteries. The Church preaches that in the life of each Christian, both prayer and good works are vital to the Christian life. Yet the point that Jesus makes in this passage is one of primacy.
Prayerful abiding at the feet of Jesus is primary in the Christian life. Good works—even those done for Christ Himself—are secondary. In turn, taking Jesus’ lesson here to heart helps us see that within every duality among the saving mysteries, one of the two is always prime. Faith is primary to good works. Jesus’ essential divinity is primary to His assumed humanity. The Old Testament prepares for and is fulfilled by the New Testament. The Liturgy of the Word prepares for and is consummated by the Liturgy of the Word made Flesh.
Our Christian faith challenges us to give ourselves over fully to all of the Church’s saving mysteries, yet to root our self-sacrifice in what is primary. Striving to serve and striving to good works demands that we live like the sister of Martha: beginning all we do with giving all we are in listening to Jesus.