In the Gospel of Luke (10:42), the Lord says: “There is need of only one thing…” For as long as we do not find that one thing or we get sidetracked looking for many other things, inexorably, we can expect anxiety, restlessness, tension, agitation, in a word: a substandard type of life. By substandard I mean a way of life that is far from what Jesus died and rose to afford us.
We look in our garage and we find so much stuff that we used to deem necessary and that, now, is waiting for our next garage sale. Moving inside the house, we find so much junk in the cupboards, drawers, shelves that, as soon as we muster the needed willpower and enough time, we will pick up and move into the garage in order to gain quick access to the things that belong in our cupboards, drawers, shelves and closets. As far as the attic is concerned, we have only a vague idea of what we put there over the years.
Looking now inside our self: in our minds we have mostly worries, deadlines, pressing demands, tentative plans and a variety of dreams. In our heart we have love, gratitude, a marked sense of duty, admiration for people who made a difference in our life, fond memories intertwined with painful ones and also remorse, disappointment, frustration, fear, resentment, bitterness, and that permanent, ever-present uneasy feeling that we could group under the umbrella of “restlessness.”
Our conclusion? Most of what we have piled up in our physical home and inside our inner-self results in a substandard lifestyle, unbecoming of a disciple of Jesus. Hence, ours can be construed as a decent Christian life but still lacking the ONE THING that would make all the difference and fill us with inner peace.
When looking at the narrative of the Lord paying a visit to Abraham (Genesis 18:1-10) and of Jesus visiting with Martha and Mary at their home in Bethany, we must gather that the Lord is not pleased with our substandard lifestyle and teaches us how we should go about our ultimate quest for inner peace.
The first helpful deduction in our quest should be this one: whenever the Lord, who is invisible yet omnipresent, makes himself visible and engages us on a very personal, intimate level and, in conversing with us, goes over whatever we hold most dear in our minds and hearts, we must conclude that the Lord is “all for us” and that we are his “only destination.” This realization sounds selfish and presumptuous until we get a better assessment of the extent of his love (infinite) and of his care (most detailed, so detailed that he, alone, has an accurate account of all strands of hair on our head, [see Matthew 10: 30].) Whenever we are praying in our inner room (Matthew 6: 6) or spending silent time in front of the Blessed Sacrament or deep in a meditative, contemplative mode, we must come to grips with the comforting fact that the God of the entire universe is in front of us, ALL for us and that he intends to stay with us as long as we want or can endure his presence.
A second consideration: it is crucial that we limit what we say to God to a bare minimum and we concentrate on listening to him. He already knows what we must get rid of, what we lack and what we need, i.e. that need of only ONE THING. Silence and inner quiet are essential.
In the conversation between Abraham and his triune guest (one God in three Persons) no mention is made by Abraham of what was the cause of most intense anxiety in his heart: that he was very old and had no son. What is God’s parting statement? In Genesis 18:10, we read: “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.”
The Lord knows at all times what we must get rid of, what we lack and what we need. Isn’t that the precise reason why God became flesh and pitched his tent among us? (see John 1:14) Isn’t that what drove Jesus to crisscross the land of Israel for the length of his public ministry?
So it is Jesus himself who is the ONE THING that we all need! Mary chooses to focus her entire being on Jesus. She becomes the ideal disciple; she is reassured, enlightened, comforted, enriched and filled with inner peace. At the same time, Martha’s inner agitation pains the heart of Jesus because she has taken her eyes away from the Lord who alone can free her of what she needs to get rid of; he alone can give her what she lacks and he alone can afford her what she truly needs. She has shifted her focus from Jesus to herself and the many things relative to impeccable hospitality.
Invariably, the outcome is anxiety—guaranteed. Her mind and heart are troubled by that strange and painful feeling with which we are all sooooo familiar! It is the feeling of restlessness that robs life of its taste and spoils even the most enjoyable things.
This is indeed a very useful lesson. It is crucial for us to carve some time from our busy daily schedule to be alone with the Lord in our inner room with the door shut. Ideally, we should do this in front of the Blessed Sacrament provided that we do not start babbling away lengthy and winded prayers but perk the ears of our soul and open the recesses of the heart as we focus our entire self on Jesus.
Let us not forget that we are his one and only destination; our needs are the lone reason for his visit and that he is visiting with us as Risen Lord. As Risen Lord, this time too he will give us his peace. (John 20: 26) It is the gift that the Victorious Lord alone can give.That peace brings with it rest, comfort, need for intimacy, trust, serenity, familiarity, confidence in making even crucial decisions and docile readiness to do his will.
- As we focus on him with the help of the Holy Spirit, he will display before our incredulous eyes all the love that he manifested on the Cross.
- As we focus on him, he will display all the breathtaking power that was and is his in the Resurrection.
- As we focus on him, he will display the unfading, undimmed light of his truth, thus proving to us that he alone is our Teacher, the Teacher at whose feet we sit with Mary listening to his every word.
Now we know what Jesus intends when he says: “There is need of only one thing.”
Hence, whenever we are restless, tense, agitated we know that we must refocus on him and surrender ourselves trustingly to his presence, to his power, to his light, to his love.