At some point early in my seminary experience a professor remarked he believed the formation for priesthood was most difficult for computer professionals (my prior field) because we were expected to know everything.
This week’s Gospel is the well-known story of Martha and Mary and the comparative value of time working vs. time spent at Jesus’ feet. I recall recently reading (the source escapes me) that Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to learn, to become a teacher, which was an exclusively male filed, and thus was crossing all sorts of boundaries.
Today’s world of big data and accountability is a very Martha world. Leadership is ever more reduced to reading and finessing polling data. These models have crept, perhaps now stormed into the social services world, even into churches, ministry, and worship. The danger is attempting to use week to week measurements to evaluate process that take a life time, or experiences whose outcome is beyond your ability to know. It’s frustrating at best, dangerous at its worst.
Last week we observed the life of St. Benedict. My readings lead me across his daily time allocation including 4 hours of prayer and worship, and 5 hours of spiritual readings and study. I have long struggled with my tendency to take on these obligations in a very Martha like style, i.e. making tasks of them. I see a similar trend in church and in society as a whole.
In the 20 years since my conversation with my seminary professor I have gotten at not doing Martha and doing Mary. Today I realize it is time to cross another set of social boundaries, defy rules of productivity and accountability, and be Mary, sit at Jesus feet, in prayer, worship and study, just to be in Jesus’, in God’s presence.
I appreciate the Martha segment of life, Benedict allocates 6 hours a day to work. The gleaning, at least for me is priorities, being in God’s presence comes prior to work. There is a potential additional gleaning that wisdom is borne more of divine presence than data derived knowledge.
By the way, back twenty years or so, we never knew everything, we just had to lead clients into believing we did. We told ourselves it was for their benefit; but I wonder.