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The Only Necessary Thing

If others flock to fashion bazaars to shop for shoes and clothes, I go to book fairs to scout for good, affordable books. :) One of my recent purchases is a Henri Nouwen book, "The Only Necessary Thing: Living A Prayerful Life." It's actually a compilation of spiritual insights and prayers of Henri Nouwen taken from many of his works (both published and unpublished).

Yesterday, I began to read it. The original plan was to begin reading it on New Year, but since I already started a lot on that day, the book was put off. On Chinese New Year, I attempted to put it on my reading list, but Fr. Michael Gaitley won over, and so, I began (again) my 33 Days to Morning Glory instead. I believe there is truly an appointed time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3), and yesterday was the perfect day to finally read the said book.

There are only 15 chapters in the book, and a total of 176 sections. I plan to read it one section a day so I can have time to really reflect and ponder. But we'll see how the Spirit would lead, I will simply follow. :)

I'll try my best to regularly share snippets from the book, and today let me start with a quote from Prayer and Peacemaking.

"Prayer is the center of the Christian life. It is the only necessary thing (Luke 10:42). It is living with God here and now."

Luke 10:42 is the last verse about Martha and Mary (Read the whole text: Luke 10:38-42). It's the verse that says "only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away from her."

My Bible (Christian Community Bible Catholic Pastoral Edition) has a beautiful commentary on that account which can help us further reflect:
Many things seem to be necessary in a family: cleaning, preparing meals, looking after the children. If there is no time to listen to others, what is life worth? Perhaps we do many things in the service of God and our neighbor; only one thing nevertheless is necessary for us all: being available for Jesus when He is present.
Martha is working and worrying and does not have time to be with Jesus. Jesus is peace and the person who does not attend to Him in peace does not receive Him. There is a way of serving and working feverishly which leaves us empty, whether it is at home or in the community; instead Jesus wants us to find Him in our daily work.
Our prayer can also be a way of fidgeting like Martha: when we fret in saying prayers, when we use a lot of words to present our worries to the Lord a hundred times over; when the person responsible for the celebration becomes nervous and overly concerned about the perfection of the singing or the homily.
To pray is to take the time to listen, to meditate in silence on the work of God, it is to slow our desires, so as to pay attention only to God, secretly present, and slip into His will.
How strange that in some non-Christian religions, people learn to bring their minds to peace and silence and reach true serenity. Meanwhile, we enter prayer with our concerns and do not let go of them until the prayer is ended.
Mary sat down at the Lord's feet. It is the traditional attitude of the disciple, at the feet of her Master. Surely, Jesus was not continually teaching, but being Himself the Word of God, He brought God to all that He touched. Mary felt it was good to be there and she was aware that her presence was not to displease Jesus.
Mary has chosen the better part. She followed only her instinct, but Jesus sees more: He will not be there much longer, and in any case His presence among us is always brief. Mary has been able to take hold of these brief moments when Jesus could be hers, and she is His while listening to Him.
I remember a line in a movie I recently watched: Being there for somebody when it's most difficult is really all that relationships are.

We all are in a relationship with God, and to be in a relationship with someone means to be there for them, even when it's most difficult, even when we're busy.

We have just entered the season of Lent, a time when it's most difficult to be with God, a time to embrace the cross, to journey with Jesus in His passion, crucifixion, and death. But hey, that's what all relationships are, right? :)

Today, as we begin a new workweek, may we choose to still be with Jesus, to remain in an intimate relationship with Him, despite all the distractions, all the hindrances, and all the seemingly good opportunities that slowly lead us away from our One True Love. 

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