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The better part is with the Lord


Deacon Reuben Chen participates in a candlelight procession during Youth For Life Boot Camp 2011 at the University of Dallas on July 29. (RANDY ELI GROTHE/Special to The Texas Catholic)

Editor’s Note: The following is an edited version of a talk given by Deacon Reuben Chen during Eucharistic Adoration at the Pro-Life Boot Camp July 29. 

By Deacon Reuben Chen
Special to The Texas Catholic 

Jesus 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.”
 

How many of your parents are active in the church and in your home parishes? I’m sure many of your parents are pretty active in the parish because they really love our Lord and want to serve Him. 

Now how many of you have heard your parents complain about how it always seems like they are doing all the work? Or maybe for yourself, that you feel like everyone else is not working as hard as you are? It’s pretty frustrating. But today is your day, because you are a busybody, just like St. Martha! 

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Which one is better… Martha or Mary? Because I want to be the best one!” In the Gospel we just heard, it certainly seemed like Mary was the better one because Jesus says to Martha that she “…has chosen the better part.” But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I think that they are both good. They are both the “better part.” What makes the difference between Martha and Mary is something that Martha does. 

Martha is the one who welcomes Jesus into her home. It is her responsibility to make sure that Jesus is well taken care of. And everything was going just fine until Martha started looking at what Mary was doing! And that’s when she started to feel envy and jealousy. 

When I first entered the seminary, I was young and did silly things. I wanted to do my best and so I wanted to pray extra hard, because you can’t be a priest if you don’t pray! So after Mass, I would stay just a little while longer to pray and thank God for the many gifts he had given me. I would close my eyes and pray this long and beautiful prayer to myself. 

One day, when I opened my eyes after my long and beautiful prayer, I saw that many of my brother seminarians were still in the chapel praying too. So I closed my eyes again and started praying some more; I didn’t want to be outdone! 

A little while later I took a peek after I was done and looked around. There were still seminarians praying! I was getting really frustrated. I wanted to be the holiest one, so I prayed some more and some more until finally when I opened my eyes, everyone was gone. Finally! Satisfied that I beat everyone at being holy, I got up to go to dinner and guess what? Dinner was over! Because I tried to show off and comparing myself with others, I went to bed hungry. And you know what else? I didn’t feel any holier either. 

When we are doing the work of God, we are honoring Him and doing His work. But when we start looking at what other people are doing, we have the temptation to fall into sin. 

When we are doing the Lord’s work — as we are doing this weekend — we are here to bring ourselves into the presence of God like Mary was at the foot of Jesus. We are here to listen to Him and see what He would have us do. The ministry of pro-life is so important because we can easily be distracted by what others are doing. 

We are here this weekend to further the pro-life cause, to be a part of the culture of life and not the culture of death. This Holy Hour tonight is not only spent in adoration, but to strengthen you and give you the courage and wisdom to face the world tomorrow. 

For some of you, praying in front of an abortion clinic and being active in the pro-life movement is a new thing, which can also be scary. When I was growing up, I always thought that praying in front of abortion clinics was for those “religious nuts.” Now I know that I would be nuts for not praying for an end to abortion. 

You are here because God has called you to be at His feet. He has called you to be faithful in keeping His mission of bringing the gift of Life to everyone in the world. And you have answered His call. 

There are times when we are called to be Martha. There are times when we are called to be Mary. Whether we are Martha or we are Mary, remember that you must never lose sight of the Lord and forget why you are doing what you are doing. You are not doing it for yourselves, you are not doing it for other people; you are doing it for the Lord. 

Only when you are doing it for the Lord, you are choosing the better part. And the better part is always with the Lord. 

Deacon Reuben Chen is scheduled to be ordained in 2012. 

RELATED COVERAGE: Read the Texas Catholic’s story on the Youth for Life Boot Camp.