Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany”: “https://amzn.to/2t1rXwh and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.” https://amzn.to/2WAcfG0
But the Lord answered her “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful; Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.
Luke 10: 41-42
Good morning Prayer Team!
Today is the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, one of the 12 major feast days of the Orthodox Church year. In fact, it is the first major feast day of the new ecclesiastical year which began on September 1. On all the feasts of the Virgin Mary, the same Gospel lesson is read, the story about Mary and Martha. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. Martha is running around acting the part of the hostess. Martha is stressed out and complains to the Lord, “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” (Luke 10:39) And the Lord answers her that one thing is needful, and that Martha shouldn’t be anxious and troubled about so many things.
There are many ways to interpret this scripture passage-the most obvious that don’t be so busy that you forget to make time for the Lord-for prayer, for worship, for charity. Critics of Christianity say that this passage demeans work-one can’t just sit around all day and pray, everyone has to carry their load of work.
Here is a practical way to think of this passage today, as we meditate on the subject of needful things. We all have a lot of stress, no doubt about that. But is all that stress really needed? I mean, when we have an informal dinner party, we often stress about every detail-will the party be more or less successful if we serve on fine china or paper plates? I remember at a wedding many years ago, the bride was coming unglued because the aisle runner was not put down straight and she didn’t want to walk down the aisle until it was. How ridiculous! Did a slightly crooked aisle runner invalidate the grace of the Holy Spirit effecting the sacrament of marriage? Did it make her a better wife, or mom? No, it just brought unneeded stress into a beautiful day.
So many times our stresses simply don’t matter-here is a good litmus test about whether it is worth getting stressed out about something-is it going to matter in a day, a week or a year? If it’s going to matter in a year, it’s probably worth getting stressed about. If it’s going to matter in a week, maybe or maybe not. If it’s not going to matter tomorrow, it’s not worth it at all.
Think how many relationships have fallen apart over words exchanges about things that truly didn’t matter! Again, when debating whether to confront someone and potentially damage a relationship, ask yourself, is what I am upset about even going to matter tomorrow? So many times, we are so concerned with being right, we don’t consider the collateral damage that comes out of an unnecessary argument.
At summer camp, nearly two months ago, we had a bad storm that forced us to change some activities. At that time, it was annoying, for sure. And years ago, something like this would have stressed me out. I’ve learned over time not to stress about stuff like this-this inconvenience that happened nearly two months ago has no effect on my life today whatsoever.
There are many things worth stressing about. But there are also many things that aren’t worth of our stress. Focus today on “needful things” and don’t give the unimportant stresses any stress at all.
More on the topic of needful things tomorrow. . .
Lord, thank You for the gift of today and the opportunities it will bring. Give me discernment in the challenges I will face today. When confronted with something that won’t matter tomorrow or next week, give me patience to endure. When confronted with something that will matter, give me wisdom to handle it appropriately. Whatever I do today, may I glorify You. May I glorify You in my words, my actions, my relationships and my work. Amen.
May your stresses be minimal today!
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