A Change of Heart

As we enter Great Lent, I find myself thinking about a book title that I once saw while perusing the shelves at a bookstore titled, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World (J. Weaver). The story of Mary and Martha (Lk 10:38-42) provides us with an important view of life today. Martha was busy serving the guests in their home, one of whom was Jesus. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him teach. When Martha complained that her sister had left her to do all the work, Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10: 41-42)

So much of our daily life is filled with doing. We take care of our kids, we clean our homes, we go to work, we buy our groceries, we prepare our meals…we are busy doing the things of our lives. We become so busy with life that we tend to grade ourselves and how successful we are, by how busy our day is. Often I hear people use coffee as a barometer on the busyness of their lives saying they are so busy that they hardly have time to drink a cup of coffee or they are so busy they need an afternoon coffee to propel them through the rest of the day. By the end of the day they can hardly get up off the couch to go to bed. Our society encourages this type of behavior. We are subtly, and not so subtly, told that we are better people when we are active. When we are ‘Marthas’.

As Christians we must find the time to strengthen our inner self. The burden is upon us to find a quiet time to sit at our Lord’s feet and listen to His teachings. We need to emulate ‘Mary’. We learn a journey is the compilation of many steps, not one huge step. So is our spiritual life. Spiritual growth takes place one small step at a time. We only need to spend a small amount of time reading and prayerfully reflecting on scripture and how it has or how it can influence our lives.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the early church embraced the idea of the Lenten journey. The Lenten period provides us the time to examine our lives, to see how we can better our understanding of our faith, and develop a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Christ. There are a greater number of opportunities for worship; Pre-sanctified Liturgy on Wednesdays, Salutation Services on Fridays, and all the services of Holy Week. In the worship the hymns and readings aid us in seeking a repentant heart and a greater understanding of our spiritual self. These hymns and readings serve to slow our lives down so that we can experience the message of love that Christ gives to us midst the cacophony of our busy lives.

The title of this book captures Orthodox tradition. Through periods of the year like Great Lent, our journey together encourages us to pray for one another, and teach one another, taking one step at a time. The Church encourages us to take time out of our busy day and sit at our Lord’s feet to listen to Him speaking to our hearts. Let this be the year that we strive to create within ourselves Mary’s heart in a Martha world.