Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 17
As We Respond to All that God Has Placed in Our Hearts, May We Go Forward and Live the Gospel Message of Christian Love and Hospitality to All Those Whom God Places in Our Path on This Side of Heaven.
In today’s Gospel, we are invited to the home of Martha and Mary, where Jesus has just entered and begins to teach. And Martha finds herself with the burden of taking care of the needs of all the guests.
She complains to Jesus that her sister is not helping, and our Lord responds, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.”
In hearing our Lord’s response, He was not rebuking Martha for her stewardship, for that would contradict so much of His teaching – and so much of His own example which He set for others to follow.
No, He wanted her to see that she had allowed anxiety and stress to control her, more than simplicity and love. He wanted her to see that, in losing her patience and her temper, she had lost her perspective as to what was truly important.
And then He says, “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
In all of life’s activities in which we find ourselves engaged, we too find ourselves having to make choices. Do we become like Martha, the dutiful hostess, serving the needs of Jesus and His followers, or do we become like Mary, choosing “the better part”?
I would dare say that there is a little bit of Martha and Mary in each of us. We would desire to go about ensuring that all the needs of our Lord were met, and, at the same time, we would desire to sit at the feet of our Savior in order to listen and to learn, listening to His words of eternal life, not wanting to miss a thing.
I am sure that each of us can understand Martha’s distress, for we have all been there – concerned about the physical comfort and well-being of others. But how do we become Christ-like to others, unless we first learn what it means to be Christ-like, unless we first learn what Christ is teaching us and asking of us?
“Mary has chosen the better part…” Mary had chosen to embrace that eternal peace which only Jesus can give. She had chosen to latch onto His every word – words which give life and fill us with happiness and consolation – an enduring hope which can be found nowhere else, other than in the very Heart of the Son of God Himself.
In our acts of Christian hospitality and ministry to others, even if it is at the dinner table at home, how do you and I view our relationship with God and the hospitality which we show towards Him? Are we open to His Presence in our life, no matter where we may find ourselves or what He may ask of us?
And how do we live that hospitality in our relationships with others, not only with family and friends, but also with the stranger on the street corner – the homeless and the despairing in our own midst?
Jesus spent His three years of public ministry teaching us and giving us the example of what it truly means to love and care for our fellow brother and sister. He never shied away from reaching out to the poorest of the poor. He never turned a deaf ear or a blind eye or a cold shoulder to those truly in need.
Our Lord gave to each of us the example of what it means to be truly Christian and what it means to be truly hospitable, for Christian hospitality is a way of life which provides an atmosphere in which selfless love and compassionate service to others can be openly expressed.
Christian hospitality is a fundamental expression of the Gospel message, for it is our response to the Eternal Father’s Divine hospitality which He has shown to both you and me – in giving to each of us His own Son as the unblemished Paschal Lamb for our eternal salvation.
And Paul alludes to this in our Second Reading today, from his Letter to the Colossians, when he writes, “…in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God.”
In other words, Paul is telling us that, in God’s act of hospitality through His Sacrificial Love for each of us, Paul is also offering the hospitality of his own personal love, in whatever form it may take – compassionate charity, self-sacrificing love, personal suffering – for the continuing needs of the Body of Christ!
And in each of us, Our Lord does the same – for He gives to us, to you and me, that which we need, so that we may also help build up the Body of Christ in our midst – so that our acts of hospitality, our acts of kindness and selfless love, even our own suffering may be used for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ – not just family and friends, but also the stranger in our midst!
It is up to us to respond to God’s invitation to become an extension of His Heart. It is up to us to say “yes” in responding to His invitation to become an extension of His hands and His voice in the world around us.
One person who did not hesitate to say “yes”, one person who did not hesitate to respond with hospitality with an open and a joyful heart was Abraham in our First Reading today – foreshadowing what we find written in the 13th chapter from the Letter to the Hebrews, “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have unknowingly entertained angels.”
Listening to God, listening to what He has to say to us, and serving His Will, is what our Readings today are all about.
How do each of us, you and I, respond to the will of God? We respond by first taking the time to listen; and we listen through silence, we listen through prayer, we listen through our attentiveness to God’s Presence in our lives.
To do so, however, can be quite challenging in the world and culture in which we live today. As a result, Jesus challenges each of us to look at our own priorities in life.
When we hear Him respond to Martha, “There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” – are we truly present with the people around us?
Are we willing to put down the TV remote and share with the other person sitting there? Are we willing to turn off the computer, take out the earplugs from our IPods and ignore the e-mail, so that we can spend quality time listening to and sharing experiences with our loved ones?
If we are unable to do this for family, how can we show selfless love for strangers?
It is no wonder that Jesus IS challenging us today to look at ourselves! For within the face of our spouse, within the faces of our children, and within the face of the stranger – is the Face of Christ, asking us, pleading with us to take the time, to sit and listen!
“Mary has chosen the better part…” And after opening our hearts and spending the time to listen and to learn, we can then respond. We can then act; we can then serve others, as God serves each of us, with selfless love and hospitality.
Jesus wants to speak to each of us just as he spoke to Martha, and just as He taught Mary sitting at His feet. He wants to invite us to sit with Him and receive His abundant Love. At the same time, he wants to give us energy for the work He is calling each of us to do in His Most Holy Name.
As we respond to all that God has placed in our hearts, may we first be nourished by the Word of God, which teaches us, inspires and guides us. And may the Bread of Life, which we receive, become the Source and Summit of our strength in truly living the Gospel message, as we go forward and live Christian love and hospitality to all those whom God places in our path on this side of Heaven.
For as God gives to you and me, we too are called to go forth and share this same Love with others!
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- [Abraham] said: ‘Sir, if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest under the tree. Now that you have come to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.’” (Genesis 18:3-5)
- There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42)
- “…in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God.” (Colossians 1:24-25)
- “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)
- “Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have unknowingly entertained angels.” (Hebrews 13:1-2)
- “And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:15-17)
Prayer for the Day
“Eternal and Most Loving Father,
I submit my entire self to Your holy will.
All that I am today, transform me into Your servant;
living Your Truth amongst my brothers and sisters.
“Thank You for imbuing me with Your Holy Spirit,
Who guides me to live a life of righteousness,
enabling me to be all that You desire me to be,
so that I may give my best in service to Your children.
“Forgive me for my past failures,
rejecting the image of Christ in those around me.
In selfishness, I held back Your Love
and fell short in living the virtue of charity.
“Fill my heart with humility,
so that I may always fulfill Your will,
imitating the life of Your Son, Jesus,
giving love without counting the cost.
“In Jesus’ Name, I pray for this graceAnonymous
for the glory of Your Divine Majesty,
in the Presence of the Holy Spirit,
and for the well-being of my soul for all eternity. Amen.”