As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “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.”
Jesus took delight in Mary’s childlike simplicity, listening with loving attention and heedful of the “one thing necessary.” The world needs movers and shakers, but also contemplatives who pull the universe into the divine orbit by the active force of silence and stillness in union with God. Martha and Mary need one another, as the ear needs the eye in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:14-26).
The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
The original harmony in the garden of Eden disintegrated following the movement of disordered desires. Bewitching the senses and the mind, the seductive fruit of the forbidden tree ensnared the first couple.
Paradisal indivisibility suffered a triple collapse as self, God, and others externalized as estranged entities.
Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are prescribed as medicine for wayfarers to remedy the triple disharmony. Fasting disciplines the whole person with regard to appetite. Prayer finds God once again in the hidden recesses of the heart. Almsgiving restores fraternal charity and communion.
After the first deception, everything and anything outside of Eden can be turned into a mirage, including religious observances. The prophet Isaiah warns his people not to turn fasting into an end in itself or use it for display.
Is this the manner of fasting I would choose, a day to afflict oneself? To bow one’s head like a reed, and lie upon sackcloth and ashes? Is this what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
Authentic fasting is hidden and bears fruit in charity to our neighbors.
Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking off every yoke?
Fasting, prayer, and almsgiving are as inseparable as person, God, and neighbor. We need all three for healing:
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed.
Love of God and neighbor wells like a fountain from the center of the deified person.
And you shall be like a watered garden, like a flowing spring whose waters never fail.
At the eschatological wedding feast, no one will fast because “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, [for] the old order has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
The Bridegroom celebrated the brief span of life allotted to him on earth to be with his Bride in the flesh, giving us a glimpse of the divine mirth and affection:
Then the disciples of John approached him and said, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast [much], but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.
Cracks in the cosmos caused By crunching of the fruit Requires a triple cure To cleanse the heart’s core root.
Fasting heals the person; Prayer finds God within. Almsgiving loves neighbors, Quashing the power of sin.
Person, God and neighbor— Cosmos in Trinity— Cured by consuming Christ, Crunching divinity.
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth—and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters…
About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down.
The God who brought order out of the pure, primordial chaos in the beginning walked upon the surface of the sea as if it was dry land (still indistinct, prior to separation). Walking between the two waters (Genesis 1:6-8) crashing and terrorizing the disciples, the Creator of heaven and earth silenced the watery chaos, calmed the waves, and hushed thunder and lightning. Jesus approached the storm-tossed boat like a beacon of light in the midst of pitch darkness.
I am the light of the world.
After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.
After quelling the sea and sky, Jesus restored order to bodies that had fallen into disorder and defective chaos. From the cosmos (universe) to the microcosmos (Adam), broken strings were repaired and harmony orchestrated out of cacophony.
All creation bears The fingerprint of God. The finger of God in Christ Touched Adam, son of God, Healing his co-heirs.1
“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1).
The curtains of the cosmic drama open with these words of Genesis, rolling out a lush garden of primordial integration when the whole of creation pulsated with divine light and energy. Ancient Hebrew cosmogony linked the ideas of cosmos and temple:
“The heavens are my throne, the earth, my footstool. What house can you build for me? Where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1)
Before the Jerusalem Temple came to be, the Earth was the temple of God. Before the Hebrews came to be, Abel offered pleasing sacrifices to the Lord on the integrated altar-temple of his heart and the Earth, the dwelling place of God (Genesis 4:4).
Cain dissociated the altar from the temple, his heart from the Earth, and committed fratricide (Genesis 4:8).
Stabbed in the heart by Cain’s assault, the Earth opened her mouth and swallowed the body and blood of Abel, the first prophet (Genesis 4:10-11).
The Lord said: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!” (Luke 11:47-51)
Instead of cleansing their hearts and acquiring the holy spirit of the prophets, the children of the murderers silenced the voice of God with whitewashed tombs (Matthew 23:27), a respectable cover-up for their own violence. Jesus saw right through the tomb builders and unmasked their hypocrisy.
We have an analogy in modern times: How well do we in America and around the world uphold the ideals of the heroes and heroines whom we honor? Do we pay homage to Abraham Lincoln but fail to examine our own hearts and that of our nation for racial bias? Do we laud Thomas Jefferson’s words that “all men are created equal,” but settle for institutional injustices?
The prophets deserve to be honored. Jesus never sanctioned the destruction of their memorials. However, he challenged the tomb builders to go beyond paying external homage to conforming their own hearts to the spirit of the honored.
From Abel to Zechariah, the voice of God was stamped out between the altar (thusiastérion) and the temple or “house” (oikos). The altar was “the meeting place between God and the true worshiper”—the human heart, ultimately, not just a manmade structure. “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13).
In the yawning gulf between the altar and the temple, the heart and the Earth, fratricide after fratricide darkened the soil of our original clay with bloodshed.
Christ, the high priest of his temple, would eventually be killed like all the prophets on the altar of the Cross in his kenotic obedience. Yet the Son of God is more than a prophet and a priest. His cosmic Body is the very temple of the Holy Spirit (John 2:20-21). Adoption by the Father through Christ, by baptism into his death, makes each person a temple of the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:4; 1 Corinthians 6:19).
The Earth could not hold the Body and Blood of Christ in a tomb as she did Abel to Zechariah. On the third day, the Son of God rose and renewed the whole universe, deifying her and pulling her into the love of the Trinity.
A change of heart was not forthcoming from Jesus’ antagonists, however. They were righteous in their own eyes, and honoring the tombs of the righteous confirmed their righteousness. Jesus joined the voices of the prophets and decried their hypocrisy, precipitating their schemes.
Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say (Luke 11:52-54).
The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).
”For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.”1
“For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”2
“The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”3
These pointers beyond our earthly existence to our deified destiny were lifted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (460). The spiritual DNA of Adam and the cosmos finds its origin in the eternally begotten Son of God. Christ, transcendent and “prior” to creation, is the archetype of humankind. The blueprint of humanity, untouched by time, exists in the heart of the Trinity.
Brothers and sisters: Someone may say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back? ”You fool! What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
Fading flowers, seed production, winter dormancy, and springtime renewal point beyond themselves to the ultimate resurrection of Adam and the cosmos.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one. So, too, it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being,” the last Adam a life-giving spirit. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.
Through stillness and silence in the midst of our activities, may we allow the Holy Spirit to plant us in the soil of Paradise so that we may germinate and grow in the Son to the Father.
1 St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 19, 1: PG 7/1, 939. 2 St. Athanasius, De inc. 54, 3: PG 25, 192B. 3 St. Thomas Aquinas, Opusc. 57, 1-4.