There is Need of Only One Thing

Homily for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)
July 21, 2019
St. Francis, Fisher – 8:00 AM; Holy Trinity, Tabor – 10:00 AM

Focus:               There is Need of Only One Thing
Function:         Listen to Him.


Christ in the House of Martha and Mary
Johannes Vermeer
ca. 1655

Unum Est Necessarium…

There is need of only One Thing…

In an attempt to become more focused and more organized, I recently purchased a new planner. It has everything:

A place to list my goals for the upcoming year and to outline my next steps for each goal

A monthly calendar so that I can see my big commitments that are coming up

A weekly preview so that I can look ahead to the next week and see what must get done this week, and a place to record my weekly “big three” – three items that I need to accomplish this week to advance my goals for the year

Daily pages that list my schedule for today, my “big three” for today, my miscellaneous tasks that will crop up during the week.

At the heart of this planner is the weekly preview. Sit down at the end of each week, review the previous week, and look ahead to the next week.  Plan it out.  What did I accomplish last week?  Did I focus on what was essential?  Why or why not?  Look ahead to next week.  Where do I have blocks of time?  Plan what to do with that time, so that when it comes I don’t spin my wheels doing the mundane but rather focus on the essential.  Focus on the One Thing rather than on the many things that distract me from the One Thing.

There is need of only One Thing…

This week I ran across a book that I ordered during my seminary years. The book is called “The One Thing”.  It’s a business book.  The premise of the book is that the many things I could do should never be at the mercy of the One Thing that I should do. Successful people know what their “One Thing” is and they focus all of their energy into that One Thing.  Often it’s one small thing that pays big dividends over time.  At the beginning of the book is a Russian Proverb: If you chase 2 rabbits, you will not catch either one. In other words, focus on the One Thing…

There is need of only one thing…

Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.

Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.

Many things vie for our attention and our energy. Often they are good things.  Providing hospitality for a guest who is the Son of God is certainly a task worthy of our energy.  And yet we can get so caught up in needing to have everything perfect that we miss out on the person right in front of us.

It is important to provide for the material needs of the person in front of us, but what about their spiritual needs? The need to be heard, the need for an encounter, the need for a gaze of love and of deep sharing.

Sometimes we get so caught up in the many things vying for our attention that we miss out on the One Thing…

There is need of only One Thing…

What is the One Thing?

At the end of your life…
When all is said and done…
When you leave this world and stand before your God on the day of your judgment…
What will be the One Thing you will wish you had done?

In John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks these words: This is eternal life, to know you, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).

That’s it. That’s the One Thing. To know you, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. This is the One Thing because this is Eternal Life.

How do we know him? The same way we know any person.

Listen to him.

In order to truly know another person,
we have to spend time listening to them,
listening to them share their heart,
listening to their joys and struggles,
listening to their thoughts and opinions, their hopes and dreams,
listening to what they value as most dear.

That is often the most difficult thing to do. It is much easier, for me anyway, to bustle about the kitchen than it is to sit in front of another person with no agenda and to listen to what they have to say.

Listen to him.

At the transfiguration, the Father’s voice was heard: This is my chosen Son.  Listen to him (Luke 9:35).

This is the One Thing. This is what Mary did.  She sat at his feet, listening to him speak.

This is often the most difficult thing to do. For me, it’s easier to sit in the chapel when I am praying the breviary or working on a homily than it is to sit there in silence, with no agenda, listening for the voice of the Lord to speak.

And yet there is need of only One Thing…

This is the One Thing…to know you, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

Know him and you will love him.
Know him and you will keep the commandments.
Know him and you will see him in your daily life.
Know him and everything else falls into place.

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of being the Spiritual Director for the JPII Middle School camp. The kids at the camp had a lot of time to sit at the feet of Jesus in adoration.  We challenged them to speak to the Lord in adoration.

On the last day of camp, they had an opportunity to share an experience from the week in front of the other campers and their parents.

One young man described how he had sat in the front row during adoration on Monday evening. He looked at the Eucharist in the monstrance and silently asked, “Jesus, if you are there, can you show me?”  Right at that moment, I turned on my microphone and repeated part of the first reading from mass that morning:

I am with you. I will never leave you.  I will protect you.  I will lead you home.

He felt a wave of peace wash over him as he sat at the feet of Jesus.

On Wednesday evening, we were in adoration again. I told the story of woman with the hemorrhage for twelve years, of how she had spent everything she had for a cure but nothing had worked.  Jesus is passing by in the crowd.  She says, “if only I can touch the tassel of his cloak, I will be healed.”  She reaches out, touches Jesus’ cloak, and is immediately healed of her affliction.  Jesus turns around and, aware that power had gone out from him, asks, “Who touched me?”  The woman falls at his feet and tells him the whole truth.  Jesus looks at her and says, “Woman, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace.”

After sharing that story, I told the campers that Jesus would again pass through the crowd and they would be invited to touch his garments and ask for what they needed. I then carried the Eucharist through the crowd, holding the monstrance with the humeral veil and inviting the kids to touch the humeral veil as they offered their prayers.  One by one, the Eucharist stopped before each kid.  One girl described touching the cloak and feeling a huge burden that she had been carrying be lifted off of her shoulders.

Peace descended upon her as she sat at the feet of Jesus.

Brothers and sisters, can we sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to his words? Can we do that this week?  What if we spent 10 minutes each day this week with the gospel reading for that day or for next Sunday?

What if we read the passage and gave some time of silence?

What if we read the passage a second time and asked, “Lord, where does this touch my life?” and gave some more silence?

What if we read it a third time and asked, “What are you saying to me, Lord?” and gave some more silence?

Pope Benedict XVI has said that sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his words in Scripture in this way would bring about “a new spiritual springtime” within the Church.

There is need of only one thing. Listen to him.

Listen to him, and you will learn from him.
Listen to him, and you will care with him.
Listen to him, and you will cry and laugh with him.
Listen to him and you will suffer and rise with him.
Listen to him and you will be transfigured with him.[i]

As you go about your week, ask yourself: “What’s my One Thing?”

This week, be willing to sacrifice the many things in order to focus on the One Thing: Jesus Christ, the one who leads us to eternal life.


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