I would like to see you free from all worry. An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband. I say this only to help you, not to put a halter round your necks, but simply to make sure that everything is as it should be, and that you give your undivided attention to the Lord.
Second reading for Sunday of 4th Week in Ordinary Time
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
One would hate to contradict an apostle, but…
…but maybe it is ok to criticise a common reception of the words of an apostle.
It is good that Paul would wish us all to be free from all worry. And maybe all an unmarried man might worry about is ‘pleasing the Lord’ but, take it from me, there are plenty of other things this unmarried man finds he worries about.
And I know married women who, if not without a care in the world, are very good at keeping their attention fixed on what matters.
Perhaps the emphasis, as we read the second sentence in the passage from 1 Corinthians to be read to us on Sunday, should be on the word ‘need’. After all the unmarried Martha allowed herself to be distracted by so many other things, good things, probably, and perhaps focused on them with good motive, but she ended up neglecting the one thing necessary.
Lord, save us from that… and St Paul, pray for us in the diversity of our other states of life…
- What distracts you from the Lord?
- What helps you be attentive and develop your relationship with him?
Detail from 2nd Century sarcophagus. San Lorenzo, Rome. (c) 2016, Rome.