A perspective on the Martha - Mary dilemma

Seeking worldly gains but not losing sight of heaven

There are two agendas to our lives. One refers to things of this world, our everyday concerns, errands, achievements and disappointments. The other relates to our riches in heaven - our immortal soul, our relationship with God and the everlasting life which we must hope to find in our earthly lives. It is a formidable challenge to pursue both agendas at the same time. Too often, we cannot allocate the resources and assign our priorities appropriately. Christ tells us to give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's (Matthew 22: 21). However, it is far less clear how we can do it in practice.

We are preoccupied with our external well-being. We work hard to find a good bargain, make a profit, exploit an opportunity, or find a better-paying job. Emphasis on worldly assets makes perfect sense. We have our everyday needs, and else will provide for them if we do not? We are responsible for ourselves, but also for our families and kin. We must work to make a living, no one is going to bring it to us on a silver platter.

Yet, in our race for material gains, we often neglect the riches of heaven. Seldom does it occur to us that our worldly lives will end, but our eternal lives will last forever. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable (1 Corinthians 15: 50). Some might choose to pursue material gain for a little longer, hoping to repay their debt to heaven with abundance later. False hopes! When the time comes, even prayer becomes a problem. We should not be surprised, because to pray means to exert our spirit. So where can we find the energy to pray when there hardly any left?

Our low spiritual achievement complicates our situation. A woman once came to me to tell me about her son. “Father,” she said, “He is fourteen, and he spends ten hours a day on his smartphone!" I cannot imagine what will become of him in a year or two. But many older people are also indifferent to their spiritual growth. Even an hour of prayer is a great feat for many. Our standards of spiritual life are still disappointingly low, So we are still drawn to that sofa in front of our television, we still spend hours consuming useless information, and there is very little room for God in our lives.

We can resume our spiritual growth by coming to the Church. The Holy Church teaches us to compromise on our material gain for the riches of heaven. The Church does not depend on sponsorship or donations. It stands on the great feats of its saints who gave up worldly glory for their eternal life in Christ. With its cycle of worship, the Church leads us into a new life based not on our momentary desires but the will of God. The winter feasts are over, and soon we will prepare ourselves for the Great Lent. We will celebrate the Sundays of Zacchaeus the Tax Collector, the Prodigal Son and the Great Judgement, each taking us a step higher in our spiritual growth. So let us all learn together to be better servants of the Lord, and grow in the spirit, while we still have time.

Today is a beautiful day. We rejoice in the abundance of the snow that brightens our lives and emboldens our hearts. So let us recognise in the beauty of the new snow the grace of our Lord and His providential care for us. May we learn to live with a sense of direction without going from one extreme to another. Hopefully, we will advance in our steadfastness, humility, patience, and thankfulness to God. Christ is in our midst, yet he is also in us; every man and woman who took communion today has the body and blood of Christ in them. They are the best assets and treasures that we could have today.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

January 29, 2022
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