Fenelon on One Thing is Needful
Martha, Martha! You are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. (Luke 10:41-42 RSV)
We think there are a thousand things we should be concerned with, but there is actually only one. If we take care of that one thing, all the others will find themselves done. And if we fail to take care of the one thing that is needful, all the others—no matter how successfully we may seem to do them—will fall into ruin. So why are we so torn between matters of the heart and our worldly cares?
From this day forward I resolve to give my total attention to the only thing on earth I ought to be concerned with. Illumined by God's holy light, I resolve to stop worrying and to do every moment, with all the strength of my mind and body, whatever God in his providence places in my path. I will not be grieved about turning everything else over to God, because it is not my work I am doing, but God’s. And I ought to want to do only what God gives me to do.
I resolve not to become keenly excited about anything, because it is dangerous to want to appropriate God’s work to ourselves. If we do that, then we do God's work in own strength; we turn good into bad and we allow pride to take over. And then we become flushed with the pursuit of success. We concealed our illusion by using the pretext of seeking God’s glory.
O God, give me the grace to be faithful in my actions, but indifferent to success. The only thing I ought to be concerned with is to desire your will and to quietly meditate on you - even in the midst of busy times. It is up to you to crown my feeble actions with such fruit as is pleasing to you—and none at all, if that is what you find best for me.