“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” (Lk 10:41) The words that Jesus speaks to Martha in this Sunday’s Gospel can easily apply to us. If you are like me, there is usually a list of things that cause anxiety and worry in our lives. Whether it’s related to our families, our job, our health, the state of the world – there are so many things that we tend to worry about, things which rob us of peace.
How do we handle anxiety and worry in our lives? Certainly, we stew over those anxieties more than is healthy, in many cases. We think about what might happen, generally focusing on the worst possible scenario, which only intensifies our worry. We might bring those worries to a family member or friend, hoping to get some encouragement or advice on how to resolve our worries. There may be a place for that, though we need to be careful there too, for sometimes sharing our anxieties with others will increase their anxieties, or it may introduce new worries into our already troubled mind. This is not to say that we should not share our fears and frustrations with good and trusted individuals, it is just a caution to not put too much hope in others to solve our problems. So what is one to do? We look to the example of the other person in the Gospel, Martha’s sister Mary. Where is she? She is sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him. Did she have some worries and anxieties? Most likely. But her being there close to Jesus shows that first and foremost, she brings what she has to Him. Jesus’s words to Martha are not necessarily a rebuke, but an invitation to come and spend time in His presence, to pause her thoughts, her activity, and just be with the Lord who already knows her worries, and who desires to speak peace into her heart, as He was doing with Mary.
This is a beautiful model for us to follow. When we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed with our many worries, how quick are we to place ourselves in the presence of the Lord, to be still and let Him be present to us? We can do this anywhere but coming to the Church to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament is a very privileged place to do so. I am not guaranteeing that just coming before the Lord will remove all the problems in our lives. But bringing those worries to Him gives us the opportunity to be reminded that the Lord is near to us. He knows what unsettles our hearts and He wants us to invite Him into those places of worry.
As I thought about this topic, a prayer came to mind that I was only recently made aware of – The Surrender Novena. Each day has a short reflection and at the end of each reflection the person praying the Novena is asked to pray the following line 10 times: “O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything!” Perhaps that prayer, said even just once in the presence of the Lord, can bring us great peace in the midst of those anxieties that bother us. Why not give these words a try at some point this week? What do we stand to lose? Nothing. What do we stand to gain? Peace!