“Mary & Martha”

The problem with Martha is that she complained to Jesus. Mary was quite content but Martha had to open her big mouth. With apologies to Jesus, I offer my list of “Ten Peeves” to which I hold out to you for your own complaints. On this hot summer day, my seriously silly sermon.

1.) Putting gum on your dinner plate, and after eating putting the gum back into your mouth. (Is gum that expensive?) Second only to reaching over with your fork without asking to taste my meal. (This isn’t “The Waltons,” it’s only the two of us.)
2) In a restaurant, wearing a baseball cap when you’re over thirty, for the whole meal, while eating. I understand a six-year-old, but you look like one.
3) Leaving church before it’s ended. (Does three more minutes truly wreck your busy schedule and your stress-ridden little life?)

For Martha, cooking was a mindless job, a tedious chore that needed to be done. No passion, no personal investment; hence a complainer she becomes. It’s like the difference between a contract and a covenant. An author writes, “A person entering into a contract doesn’t really change. She just finds some arrangement that will suit her current interest. A commitment..changes who you are, or rather embeds who you are into a new relationship. A contract is a transaction. A covenant is a relationship. …a contract is about interest. A covenant is about identity. This is why contracts benefit, but covenants transform.” Mary was transformed in finding her passion, her identity. Martha, even at her age, was still searching ending up frustrated .

4) Crossing two lanes at the last minute to make a turn. Added to this is my deciding to drive through a yellow light and the driver behind me follows me closely through the light. What if I had decided not to proceed through that yellow light………

Here’s next week’s homework: (Children, please close your ears, this is for adults.) My psychologist who later became my friend told me of the “fours.” It’s “a, b, c and e.” I told him, “You can’t come up with an ‘d’?” He didn’t smile back at me. It’s “a, b, c and e. (I really think Jesus would have like it.) Here it is. Never, ever…”Apologize, Blame, Complain or Explain.” I’m still trying to understand what he meant years later but I believe it’s true. I fail again and again in those fours but there’s a truth to it that is Biblical, human and, most of all, healthy for all involved.

5) You hear one, single perspective or comment on the radio, television, or online, remember it and then repeat it to as many people as possible to show how intelligent and informed you are, as though the burning bush spoke to you. (Very common these days.)

Back to Martha, a rabbi writes, “spirituality is an emotion. Religion is an obligation. Spirituality soothes. Religion mobilizes. Spirituality is satisfied with itself. Religion is dissatisfied with the world. Martha only perceived “religion,” she hasn’t uncovered, unveiled her “spirituality.”

6.) Having dinner with someone who answers the cell phone and now you need to sit there and listen to that conversation (albeit one-sided) complete with that person’s laughter all of which is never shared with you. Followed by that person’s stupid apology. (Please refer to “a” under number four.)
7.) A friend of yours is sharing a personal story and you interrupt that person’s story by inserting a story of your own, almost erasing the person’s first story.

Here’s next week’s homework for us all: When someone begins to tell you a story, please slowly count to ten before interrupting. As the storyteller continues, count again to ten or twenty instead of interupting with your lame, supposedly complimentary story that now puts all the attention of you. Let the person in front of you finish his/her story. That way you will have saved a friendship and proven to yourself that you can quietly count to ten or twenty or thirty…all the while smiling. As we say these days, “That’s a win-win.”

8.) You’re holding a door for someone and that person then holds the door you’re holding as though I was going to let go of it and cause bodily harm to a person I don’t know.
9.) At a stop light, being forced to listen to loud music from the car next to me while I’m trying to listen to Patti Page sing about “Ole’ Cape Cod.”
10.) Having to think of ten things to write, just to make it a complete ten, instead of the nine things that I really wanted to say.

My sincere apologies to Jesus. (Yea right) I’m not a complainer, I’m not that kind of person. (Yea, right). It’s not in my nature. (Yea, right) There is no blame to be made. (Wrong!) I only want to explain why I’m the person that I am not. (Not)

Your tenth may be having to listen to a priest give a seriously silly sermon on a hot summer day.


About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on Amazon.com.
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