“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things." Lk 10:41
There is a series on anxiety that has been running in the New York Times for a couple of years. (anxiety) Sometimes difficult to read because the writers suffer so from what to others might be insignificant situations, it is, nevertheless, insightful and demanding. I read it because I am an anxious person and want to learn more about the condition, but also because it reminds us that almost 20% of Americans regularly suffer from anxiety. Clearly, for anyone committed to a Gospel life, compassion for the suffering is essential.
Although it is difficult to know if Martha's anxiety is similar to what the Times' columnists write about, the text is clear. Martha is anxious to have Jesus address her discomfort and tell her sister Mary to help in the kitchen. Jesus responds gently enough, but reminds Martha that Mary has chosen the better part. Mary wants Jesus to free her from her anxiety and thinks having her sister help with the serving will do this, but those who suffer from anxiety know this is not the case. Unless we learn to enter and own our discomfort, it will always control us, and while we might want to blame others for it, it belongs to us and only we can engage it and live with it.
Examining those times in life when we seek explanations that free us from responsibility for our own actions is a necessary aspect of Gospel living. Acknowledging that what is bothering us is not caused by others is the first step in accepting ourselves as we are. Jesus wants Martha to see and accept her envy and let Mary attend to her own faults. He wants us to do the same.
Today, stay with your anxiety or upset. Don't run.
What situations most often make your anxious or worried?