By now I’m sure you are familiar with the Pokémon Go phenomenon. Within a week it has become the biggest mobile game ever, attracting over 21 million daily active users. It’s a game that uses players cell phones’ to guide them to real places where virtual Pokémon monsters roam so that the user can find, capture and train them. This game which combines a virtual world with real life places, has become more and more popular as it gets free advertising in the news because of the many serious injuries and deaths which have been associated with it. People have become so consumed by the game, that they keep their eyes glued to their cell phone, forgetting that they are living in a real world which has its own dangers. People get so locked into this game that they ignore everything around them, causing some people to be robbed, others to walk in front of cars and it even caused someone to walk off a cliff.
Love it or hate it, Pokémon Go has shown us how easy it can be to become consumed by our cellphones. While smart phones do many remarkable things and enable us to stay connected in ways the world couldn’t even dream of 50 years ago, they also seem to be causing us to be more and more distracted. Living in the 21st century we are blessed with so many tools that make our life easier and make it possible for us to be connected to each other regardless of where in the world we are, yet we seem to be so busy now that we don’t recognize each other. As we become more and more focused on the different technologies designed to connect us, it seems we become less and less connected. Sadly it’s not uncommon to see two people sitting at a dinner table so glued to their phones that they don’t even talk to each other. Perhaps it’s time to us to slow down, and recognize each other. Perhaps it’s because we are all too caught up in our own worlds that the world around us seems to be falling apart. You see, when we are truly attentive to others we begin to see people for who they are. We begin to recognize that each person is our brother and sister who, like us, are made in the image and likeness of God. While we may not always agree with another person, when we recognize those around us, walls which separate us come down and people can truly live in peace, justice and harmony.
Friends, we are social beings. We are created to be in relationship with each other. We are made to love and serve each other, to spend time in each other’s presence. Yet, in order, to be in relationship with others we need to withdraw parts of ourselves, so that others can fill those spaces. This openness to others allows us to integrate our lives with each other and is an essential requirement to be a follower of Christ, to be a Christian. The example of Jesus teaches us that we must make space for others in our soul and this demands an active awareness of their presence in our lives.
This attentiveness to others is the basis of our relationship with God. After all how we treat each other is how we will treat God. Today’s Gospel challenges us to ask ourselves if we are welcoming to God; if we are attentive to His presence, power and love in our lives. Friends, “man is a relational being and if his first fundamental relationship is disturbed – his relationship with God – then nothing else can be truly in order.” For “only when the heart becomes perceptive can the eyes likewise recognize him.” Today’s story of Martha and Mary encourages us to listen and be present to the Lord and others.
In today’s Gospel, Martha is so consumed by doing things that she fails to recognize Jesus right in front of her. Martha certainly has good intentions, she wants to make sure Jesus has everything He needs to feel welcome, but she forgets that Jesus simply wants her attention. Martha allows all of the preparations to become a distraction. Mary on the other hand is content with just putting the work aside for a little while to spend time with Christ.
Today’s Gospel challenges us to ask ourselves are we like Martha or are we like Mary. Do we let all of the other things get in the way of spending time with God and others? It challenges us to ask ourselves what are those spiritual cell phones in our lives, that seem to keep us so occupied they cause us to put up a barrier between ourselves and our relationship with Jesus Christ and others?
 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Jesus of Nazareth Part II. San Francisco: Ignatius Press,2011. Pg 44.
 Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. Dogma and Preaching Applying Christian Doctrine to Daily Life. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2011. Pg 302.