16th Sunday Ordinary Time

16th Sunday Ordinary Time

Vol. 5 No. 45 DoM Gospel Reflection
16th Sunday Ordinary Time—17 July 2016
Luke 10: 38-42

In this Sunday’s Gospel we hear the story of poor Martha. Martha is working so hard to serve her guest. Her sister, Mary, just sits at the feet of Jesus listening to him. We all know how much work is involved when preparing for dinner guest. Yet, Mary just sits.

This gospel is hidden in this Sunday’s first reading from the book of Genesis, chapter 18:1-10a where we have the story of Abraham’s encounter with three men who mysteriously appear in front of his tent on a very hot, humid day. Abraham is very hospitable. He runs to meet his guest, he hastens to his tent
telling Sarah to make food quickly, and then he runs to his herd for a choice steer. He waits on his guest while they rest under a tree. Before the men leave they tell Abraham that Sarah will have a son in a year. We understand these three guests to be the holy trinity. Abraham is showing us how to welcome the Divine presence in our lives.

In Luke’s gospel Martha is acting in a very traditional role. Women in this time were expected to attend to domestic activities. Sitting at the feet of the rabbi, learning from the teacher, was a role reserved for men. It seems that Martha is being hospitable, but, she isn’t truly concerned for her guest, as Abraham was for his. She is concerned for herself. She complains to Jesus about Mary not helping her. She ask Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Putting Jesus in the middle of this sisterly conflict is most
definitely not hospitable. Martha must have been surprised by Jesus’ response. Not only does he not
tell Mary to help her sister, he praises Mary. What Jesus is telling Martha is that she is missing being in the presence of the Lord. She is making herself anxious and worried over mundane tasks. Mary is the sister who shows true hospitality by listening to their guest. Mary understands there is need of only one thing. She knows the true son promised by Abraham’s guest is sitting in her home. She realizes Jesus does not come to be served but to serve. What Martha needs to do is stop, take a deep breath, realize she is in the presence of the Lord, listen to his word, and know she is valued not for all of her hard work but, for who she is.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Part 1, Article III, Section IV, paragraph 127 tells us “the fourfold Gospel holds a unique place in the Church, as is evident both in the veneration which the liturgy accords it and in the surpassing attraction it has exercised on the saints at all times”. St. Therese of Lisieux said “Above all it’s the Gospels that occupy my mind when I’m at prayer; my poor soul has so many needs, and yet this is the one thing needful. I’m always finding fresh lights there, hidden and enthralling meanings”.

Many of us can identify with Martha. We all live busy lives. Our being Martha is for all of the right
reasons. We want to be helpful to our families. We want to serve our neighbors, our Lord and our
church. If we had all Mary’s at St. Ignatius we would never have coffee and doughnuts after 10:00 AM
mass! But, if we become too busy to be still in God’s presence and hear his word we will end up anxious and worried. Just as he came to Abraham, Martha, and Mary he also comes to us. How does he come to us? He comes to us now as we take an hour out of our day to attend Daughters of Mary. He comes to us in Mass during the Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist. He comes to us in all the sacraments. He comes to us in our quiet prayer time.

How will you find the balance between your Martha and Mary this next week? Will you remember to sit at the feet of Jesus?

Summary: The story of sisters Martha and Mary is a reminder to us that while we have daily responsibilities and should be of service to our families, neighbors, and church we must not forget to realize we are in the presence of the Lord. Being worried and distracted does not add one additional hour to our lives. It only keeps us from the one thing needed, a Christ centered life.

Sources: Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catholic Scripture Study International, Genesis by Steve Ray
Scott Hahn
The Sacred Page Blog
Elisabeth Johnson, The Working Preacher

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