Skip to comments.Martha and Mary (or where's the word "Catholic" in the Bible?)
Posted on 07/23/2007 9:58:11 AM PDT by NYer
I recently got a harsh letter from a Baptist lady protesting that she could not find the word "Catholic" anywhere in the Bible.
True, the earliest occurrence of the term is in a letter of St. Ignatius of Antioch, written 20 years after the last book of the New Testament. But the idea that the Church is "catholic" pops up everywhere in the gospels and epistles. The Greek word "catholic" comes from the word for "wholeness" or "fullness." The "catholic" church is not just a regional sect for an exclusive little group. Rather it must include the whole family of God over the whole world, welcoming all, from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation (Rev 7:9). In addition, the "catholic" church cannot pick and choose which doctrines are trendy and convenient, but must be faithful to the whole truth. Paul points out that the essence of his apostolic call was to be a "catholic" teacher: "I became a minister of this church through the commission God gave me to preach among you his word in its fullness . . . we admonish all men and teach them in the full measure of wisdom, hoping to make every man complete in Christ" (Col 1:25, 28, NAB).
One day, the fullness of life and truth came walking into the living room of a pair of sisters named Martha and Mary. They immediately recognized the privilege of having Jesus in their home and set to work fulfilling the sacred duty of hospitality.
The problem was, they had conflicting ideas of what that duty entailed. Martha's response is very recognizable, especially by those familiar with Mediterranean culture. "Bring out the coffee, the wine (what kind do you prefer?), make sure the china and silverware are laid out in proper order, get out a full assortment of hot and cold hors d'oeurves (make sure the hot are really served hot)."
Mary thought that the supreme compliment that she could pay to her divine guest, even more than world-class refreshments, was to give him her full attention. The fullness of truth had come to her home to nourish, enlighten, and transform her. Not to receive and unwrap this wonderful gift would be an insult to the giver.
Martha's mistake was not that she attended to the guest's bodily needs. The story of Martha and Mary is not an endorsement of laziness and passivity. In Gen 18:1-10 God visits Abraham in the form of three travelers, and Abraham and Sara pull out all the stops when it comes to food and drink, and this was good.
Martha's problem was that she allowed the activity of hospitality to become a distraction. She couldn't see the forest for the trees. She lost her focus and actually got mad that her sister would not join her in her frenetic fussing.
Mary kept her focus. She was not passive — attentiveness to the fullness of truth is supremely active. That's why the contemplative, monastic life has always been held in the highest esteem in the Catholic Church.
I was once told by a monk that the greatest sin of the modern world is not its lewdness but its busyness. We live in the most distracted, frenetic society of all time. It is tempting in such a society to think we are good Christians and deserve applause because we look at God from time to time out of the corners of our eyes.
But the fullness of truth, the fullness of life, the fullness of grace deserves our full attention. Jesus really cannot be merely a part of one's life, but must be the center of one's life. It does not mean that our lives can't be full of activities. But unless we preserve some quiet time each day to sit at His feet as did Mary, our action will become distraction and we'll be as snappy and unhappy as Martha.
Fr. Donald Calloway
What does it take to transform a die-hard agnostic into a fervent apostle of Christ? How does God's grace literally transform hearts - one step at a time? In this conversion testimony , you'll literally be on the edge of your seat as a former "Deadhead" and drug-addict candidly shares how he was unexpectedly led to the Roman Catholic Church and eventually into a Roman collar as an ordained priest. An incredible odyssey of faith, Fr. Donald Calloway's radical conversion can be compared to that of a modern St. Augustine as chronicled in his famous Confessions.
Sex, Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll The son of self-proclaimed "hillbillies" from the back woods of West Virginia, Donald Calloway was raised without any religion or a father figure to model. Finally baptized as a Protestant at the age of ten, he never received any formal Christian instruction. And when his family moved to California, he slipped into the "MTV lifestyle" - sex, drugs and rock music. This pagan rebellion intensified to total mayhem when his family relocated to Japan and he ran away from home.
Satisfaction of the senses became young Donald's rule of life that escalated to a life of crime. Constantly on the move to avoid arrest, he and his friends soon got connected with the Japanese Mafia. During this time of endless wanton wandering filled with wine, women and song, Donald's mother became Catholic and fervently prayed for her fifteen-year-old prodigal son to return home. Like a modern-day St. Monica, she trusted that God would touch his soul with the grace of repentance.
Embrace the Grace After many failures at drug rehab, Donald sought solace as a Grateful Dead groupie even as God was miraculously moving his entire family to convert to Catholicism! Resisting any attempts to be evangelized and turning once again to petty robbery in order to survive, in 1992 this rebel without a cause reached a breaking point in his life. Fortunately, he discovered a book on Marian apparitions and devoured its powerful message of repentance. The Blessed Virgin Mary had literally stolen his heart and introduced spiritual concepts like heaven, hell, repentance and sin. There was no turning back!
Full of unexpected twists and turns, No Turning Back will inspire you to recognize and embrace the countless graces God grants in your own life. Part of a new generation of priests, Fr. Calloway's amazing story powerfully manifests Our Lord's infinite mercy and faithfulness. Order No Turning Back: Confessions of a Catholic Priest today and share this inspiring and unforgettable journey with your lukewarm family members, fallen-away friends and any lost souls that need a powerful reminder of God's love and faithfulness.
Rev. Donald Calloway, M.I.C., is the assistant rector of the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, MA. As a convert to the Catholic Faith, Father Calloway left a rebellious life of wine, women and song to embrace God's saving truth. After studying at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, OH and the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., he was ordained to the sacred priesthood in 2003.
Great article, NYer.
Wow. It sounds like a book worth reading.
Catholic means “Universal”. He came for “all” the people. Doesn’t mean that “all” the people hear Christ’s message. Hence, in a way, the word “Catholic” is in the Bible as spoken by Christ — “for all.”
You can get Fr. Calloway’s conversion story on video (VHS and DVD). I was blown away by it. Looking at him now you would think that he had lived his whole life as a clean-cut, Christian person. No way! He was a hell raiser if ever there was one.
And then everything changed. His story is very inspiring.
Out of fairness, “Lutheran” isn’t in the Bible, either. :-)
Other than John the Baptist, is Baptiat in the Bible in reference to Protestants?
Neither is “bible”.
Did either of you watch Fr. Calloway with Marcus Grodi this evening? The descriptions of his youth had me doubled over with laughter, especially the reaction of the priest with whom he shared his story. I’m very tempted to purchase this episode of the Journey Home. It’s one I would like to watch over and over again.
No cable TV! I have seen his conversion story on video tape. Very inspiring.
You won’t find the word “Trinity” in the Bible, either.
You wont find the word Trinity in the Bible, either...
...and still another word you will not find in the Bible, no matter how hard you search, is...Bingo...