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Not by bread alone

Melissa G. is an ambitious, go-getting woman whose main preoccupation is academic achievement.She has two undergraduate degrees, two MA degrees and a Ph.D. As she pursues her second Ph.D., the stress and strain of concentrated study begins to show.

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She has lost her sense of humor. She has become more and more irritable. One day, a wise old professor called her into his office. “Melissa,” he said, “I see you’re not at all relaxed, weighed down by MAs and PhDs. It’s plain and simple. You’re killing yourself BY DEGREES!”

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The advice of that wise professor might sound like the concern of Jesus over the workaholic Martha in this 16th Sunday’s gospel.

Martha is so upset, so preoccupied about preparing a nice meal. She has become high-strung, and even snaps at Jesus:

“Lord are you not concerned that my sister has left me all alone to do the household tasks? Tell her to help me.”

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You would not say that to no less than the Son of God! No wonder, nagging women including bossy nuns are sometimes called “Martha.”

But the patient Lord gently reproves her: “Martha, Martha! You fret and worry about so many things, but just one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best portion” (Lk 10,41).

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In defending Mary before her sister, Jesus took the opportunity to teach a very important message and that is: we should not neglect the other need which is spiritual. He said it clearly in the Scriptures: “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

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There’s a father who came to a parent-teacher meeting, after which he talked with one of his son’s teachers. The father broke down and began to cry.

After he regained his composure, the father apologized, saying, “My son no longer lives with me. But I still love him, and I want to know how he’s doing in school.”

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The father then told the teacher how his wife and four children had left him. He was a building contractor and sometimes worked 16 hours a day. Naturally, he saw little of his family, and they slowly grew farther and farther apart.

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Then the father confided something sad, saying: “I wanted to buy my wife and kids all those things I had dreamed of giving them. But in the process I got so involved in work that I forgot about what they needed most: a father who is around at nights to give them love and support.”

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In our modern times, there is indeed a more subtle enemy that can erode a family and that is WORK. More than that, it can also erode our relationship with God.

That is the lesson Jesus teaches and reminds us in today’s gospel.

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HELP SEMINARIANS. Please help the seminarians we’re supporting under “Adopt a Seminarian” scholarship program.

Without seminarians, we cannot have priests, bishops, and popes.

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You may chip in an amount or sponsor a seminarian’s schooling for a year. For inquiries, e-mail me at belsvd@gmail.com. (Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD)

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