Sometimes we experience the tension of the active life versus the contemplative life as a conflict. It is not meant to be a conflict, and wont be experienced as one, if we can find the right balance between these two parts of life according to the Gospel. Both are necessary for the successful proclamation of the Gospel. Without someone to preach the word and take it to those who have never heard the Gospel (active), no one would be converted. At the same time, we must never underestimate the contemplatives who give their lives in prayer, work and suffering as forms of intercession for the successful proclamation of the Gospel. We often forget them, but thanks be to God, they never forget us!

Martha has a predilection for work. She always has to be busy about doing this and doing that. Mary has a tendency just to sit there and listen to the wisdom of those around her. She has a quieter and more contemplative spirit. Jesus does not say that one is better than the other. He just reminds Martha of the goodness of contemplation. It is usually the busyness in us that takes over and thus pushes the contemplative to one side. We would do well to be aware of this tendency in our own lives and be firm about setting aside times of contemplation and quiet to balance our the busyness and noise of modern day life.

I sometimes wonder what it must be like for a contemplative to experience the ‘noise’ (most of it totally superfluous to our needs) of modern day life? What do they think of it all? I am pretty sure that they would shake their heads in dismay and wonder how on earth we make sense of our lives as they are! And then, sometimes, I come to the conclusion that they are right and force myself to program in a bit more quiet and reflection into my life. Unfortunately, it never seems to last for very long and I am forced to go through the whole process again!

Do I set aside times of quiet in my daily or weekly schedule to think meaningfully about the questions of life? If not, why not? Am I too scared of the answers to these questions?

Lord Jesus, you often drew aside to spend time in prayer with your Father. Help me to follow your example and to be able to draw strength from such quiet times as in them I am able to find you and speak to you more deeply and meaningfully.