Luke 10: Choices of an Empathetic, Intuitive Heart

Story of Martha and Mary

Jesus With Martha and Mary — Tintoretto

Luke 10 is about preparing and sending the disciples out in the world to heal and to preach. The stories told within Luke 10 illustrate the values based choices necessary for someone called to participate in Jesus’ mission. The Parable of the Good Samaritan defines what it means to love my neighbor and the Story of Martha and Mary shows what it means to sit in the presence of divine wisdom. Both involve choices that come from an open, empathetic and intuitive heart.

Treating the Stranger as Oneself

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Samaritan (who was thought to be inferior in class and moral values to the Jews) is ironically the one who treats a stranger beaten and robbed as he would want to be treated—quite unlike the priest and the Levite. The Samaritan is the one who is operating from a moral perspective which recognizes that this is a human being just like himself. Since he wouldn’t want to be left hurt and penniless by the wayside, he simply makes the choice to help the man. This is empathy in action. It shows a heart open to the needs of others.

To Do or to Be Still and Receptive: The Better Choice

The Story of Martha and Mary clearly describes the state of mind of each one of us at any given moment. One part of us is busy, running about taking care of errands, serving others and the performing the tasks of everyday life. This is the doing part of ourselves that make us feel like we have “to do” something in any situation, and often make us feel good when we have done something. The other part of us—which wants to sit quietly, patiently and attentively to hear what comes from silence— however, is often ignored and disparaged in our action-oriented society as being lazy or useless, “navel gazing” with no productive outcome. Jesus makes clear this latter choice to sit in the presence of divine wisdom is the better choice. It is a reminder to us to put aside the busyness of the day and sit in intuitive reflection, open to what comes in the silence.

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