Temper Tantrum Sunday? Or, At Your Service?

Sometimes I think this should be “Temper Tantrum Sunday.”

I am torn between “Temper Tantrum Sunday” or “At Your Service” Sunday.  In today’s Scripture, Martha has a temper tantrum.  I don’t know about you but I know that I say “it’s not fair!” a lot lately.  “Why is this happening to me?”  We all want to think that we are Mary and sitting at Jesus’ feet but, in my house, somebody has to make dinner and do the dishes!  “Why do I have to do the dishes?”  (Wait, maybe that was one of my kids!)

A temper tantrum would be the opposite of our virtuous pursuit of temperance/self-control and sacrifice.  We should put others first shouldn’t we?  Temperance is not a word you hear often today.  A temper tantrum means we are out of control.  Our “passions” or “emotions” have gotten the best of us.  Our personalities or temperaments can predispose us to react.  St. Paul talks about the thorn in his side.  He doesn’t say what it was but maybe that was by design.  Each one of us has some form of “kryptonite”.  St. Paul tells us to hang in there and keep fighting those impulses that could lead us away from God.  It is the struggle that matters.  We can’t give in.

I happened to hear two homilies this weekend.  One of the priests talked about the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  The head tempter says, “If you can’t tempt them to sin, just keep them busy.”  The other priest talked about how we can get too busy or “clutter” our lives leaving no room for God.  They both talked about hospitality.  Prepare and get ready!  Are we prepared to meet Jesus?

Maybe you had the experience growing up of cleaning the house or preparing for a celebration in your family.  We should do the same to stay on track spiritually. Poor Martha really gets a bum rap.  Yes, she is complaining and doesn’t think it’s fair.  We all have been in this situation whether it’s in our family or at work.  We may be overwhelmed by everything going on in our lives.  The key to the story is that she goes to Jesus with her problem and feelings.  She complains to Him.  She gets His help and advice.  If you have a problem, take it to Jesus.  Moral of the story is that both Martha and Mary went to Jesus.  Martha felt close enough to Jesus to be honest and get His help.  Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened.  This is our prayer life.  Sometimes, we are getting out all of our fears and emotions.  Sometimes, we are just waiting and listening for God’s Word.  Either way, Martha and Mary are in a relationship with Jesus.  Both are doing that in their own way.  Maybe there was a day when their roles were reversed and Martha was at the feet of Jesus.  We just need to remember that no matter what – we know who to get help from!  Jesus tells Martha not to worry about Mary.  Mary is right where she is supposed to be at that moment.  So is Martha!

“At Your Service” was inspired by the Hobbit Book Club we are doing.  Bilbo Baggins says, “At your service,” whenever he meets someone.  We does he mean?  What is the author trying to tell us?  Bilbo says “Good morning” when he meets Gandalf.  Gandalf asks what he means by that.  Is he having a good morning?  Does he wish that Gandalf has a good morning?  The question could mean so many things.  Compare that to Bilbo’s greeting as he meets the dwarves.  When he says “at your service”, he doesn’t realize what he is being called to do.  He lets them in his house and reluctantly shares his food.  The dwarves are there to ask for his “service.”  He doesn’t know he will be asked to go on an adventure.  No one says “at your service” anymore.  What if we did and actually meant it?  Jesus said we should be servants.  Are we ready to serve Him and others?  Martha reminds us that we may not enjoy the service we do but it is necessary.  Martha reminds us that we should give generously with heart.  We need to have a good attitude!  If we stay close to Jesus, we can serve with joy!

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