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"At His Feet: One Thing"

 

"The words of his mouth I have treasured in my heart"

(Job 23:12B)

 

          In the gospel story of "Martha and Mary" Mary is seated at the feet of Jesus listening to him speak. Jesus tells an anxious and worried Martha,

 

"There is need of only one thing"

(Luke 10:42).

 

In the presence of Jesus, Mary's interiority might be summed up by these words found in The Book of Job: "The words of his mouth I have treasured in my heart" (Job 23:12B). When Jesus speaks it is from the fullness of his heart; for, he is the Word--the Living Word--the Saving Word of the Father. We read in the prologue of the Gospel of John, "From his fullness we have all received"(John 1:16). For intercessors, first and foremost, it is about receiving from Jesus. Mary is fully engaged "at his feet", her heart receptive to "The mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge"(Col. 2:2B-3); for, "Where your treasure is, there also will your heart be"(Mt. 6:21).

 

          In the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 13:44-46), we read of a person who finds a treasure in a field and sells all to possess it; Likewise, we read of a merchant who finds a 'pearl of great price' and goes and sells all that he has to possess it--letting go of all for the sake of the one! God promises us:

 

"I will give you treasures out of the darkness, and riches that have been hidden away, That you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you be your name" (Is. 45:3).

 

This time of intense listening at the feet of Jesus is meant to be extremely intimate and personal. It is the "hidden life": "Your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). In this Heart to heart encounter, "we receive some of the hidden manna" (Rev. 2:17) of his life-giving word. Jesus "reveals deep and hidden things" (Dn. 2:22)--"God's wisdom, mysterious, hidden" (1 Cor. 2:7). In this time of active listening, we echo the desire of the psalm writer, "In my inmost being teach me wisdom"(Ps. 51:8). Here, Jesus knows us by name; here, he calls us by name. There is need of only one thing: Jesus is our desperate need--our one essential!

 

          In The Letter to the Colossians, St. Paul says it this way: "Christ is everything in all of you" (Col. 3:11B[N.A.B., 1970]); and , "For to me life is Christ" (Phil. 1:21). Isaiah 55:3 says, "Listen that you may have life". Jesus is the Life of an intercessor! First of all, we are called to inner stillness in his presence. Action follows upon being. One cannot offer life unless one first receives life (one cannot offer in union with Jesus unless one first receives in union with Jesus). The necessary starting point of the missionary-intercessory call of the Lamb (the charism of communal, contemplative intercessory prayer) is our being in Christ "at his feet"--that we "might be with him" (Mk. 3:14) and, "Listen to him" (Mk. 9:7).

 

          Jesus says that there is need of only one thing. In Psalm 27:4, the psalm writer says it this way:

 

"One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the LORD'S house all the days of my life, to gaze on the Lord's beauty, to visit his temple."

 

This verse describes the hunger in a human heart, eager to encounter the beauty of the living and true God found in a contemplative gaze--an insatiable longing to be in God's presence. Jesus invites us to: "Remain in me, as I remain in you" (John 15:4); and, "The faithful shall abide with him in love" (Wis. 3:9). St. Paul states it this way in Phil. 3:13-14:

 

"Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus."

 

One of the meanings of the word, pursuit, is 'to engage in a vocation'. An essential element of each Christian vocation is a seeking of Jesus with all of one's heart:

 

"I will rise then and go about the city; in the streets and crossings I will seek him whom my heart loves"

(Songs 3:2)

 

Today, our cities, towns, neighborhoods, parishes and families need to see the active pursuit--the sacred quest--of more hungry "seekers of him whom my heart loves" in their midst!

 

For St. Paul, Jesus is the goal, the prize--the one! Jesus is the priority.

 

          What is a priority? A priority is a relationship of, or something of, importance and urgency. The root meaning of the word, priority, is "first". In 1 John 4:19 we read, "We love, because he first loved us." For God, humanity comes first. We are God's priority. We are God's "first thirst": "Prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him" (CCC 2560): "For he satisfied the thirsty" (Ps. 107:9). Love gives precedence, priority, to who or what is most valued. God wants love to be the first priority for intercessors because "God is love". In The Book of Revelation, the Church at Ephesus is chastised for having lost its initial zeal: "You have lost the love you had at first" (Rev. 2:4). Jesus wants everyone to share in his own single-heartedness and single-mindedness for the Father. For Jesus, there is only one thing: "Behold, I come to do your will, O God" (Heb.10:7), "So that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:21).

 

          St. Paul, through his profound conversion, began to reprioritize his life. In an already-cited passage, he speaks of forgetting what lies behind" (Phil. 3:14) ("because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.") (Phil. 3:14) In Luke's Gospel, Jesus addresses what must be left behind:

 

"And to another he said, "Follow me". But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father. But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God. " And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." Jesus answered him, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:59-62).

 

Further, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks emphatically concerning the ordering of a disciple's life:

 

"Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me"

(Mt. 10:37)

 

Jesus invites us to let go of inordinate attachments and relationships that would have us compromise the "call of the king" upon our lives. Seen in a positive light: "Whoever is in Christ is a new creation; The old things have passed away; behold, new things have come" (2 Cor. 5:17); and, "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev. 21:5). Intercessors must be spiritually "fit" ('ready, prepared, acceptable for a purpose') to engage the "plow" of intercessory pleading by remaining focused on Jesus "the leader and perfecter of faith" (Heb. 12:2) at all times. At a moment's notice--at the prompting of the Spirit--we must be ready to "Break up for yourselves a new field" (Hosea 10:2): To pray for anyone or any situation in need of prayer.

 

 

Questions:

1) Is Jesus truly my "first thirst"?

2) Are there any inordinate attachments to persons or realities in my life that sometimes compromise my relationship with the Lord?

 

Scriptures:

Any of the scriptures found in the teaching text.

 

"TWO-ZERO-ONE-SEVEN, TIME TO STORM HEAVEN"

 

         

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