Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time July 17, 2016
Reading 1 Gn 18:1-10a
Responsorial Psalm Ps 15:2-3, 3-4, 5
- (1a) He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord. Reading 2 Col 1:24-28
Alleluia cf. Lk 8:15
- Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Lk 10:38-42
Homily— July 16 & 17, 2016
The Bible gives us some heroes to imitate. In the first reading today we have an example of wonderful hospitality. In the heat of the day, when Abraham was about ready to doze off for a siesta, he sees three men. He runs to them to offer hospitality. He promises them water to bathe their feet and a little food to eat. Abraham told Sarah to make some rolls while he had a steer butchered and prepared. He brought the meal to the travelers and waited on them as they ate. The men predicted that Sarah was going to have a son by the time they returned next year! Abraham is the epitome of hospitality. I would want to come back the next year too. Remember this was not a time of motels and hotels and rent-a-car and taxis! Travelers were dependent on the hospitality of those who lived along the road. Generosity to the stranger was a sign of welcoming God, the father of all. Abraham’s story alerts us to the fact that God appears in every guise except the one we expect and that we have countless opportunities to entertain God’s angels if only we will open our heart and home to them.
When Jesus entered a village he was welcomed by a woman named Martha. One of the commentaries stated that “Martha” is the feminine form of the name “master”. From this one can assume that Martha was in charge of the house. She does it all: inviting, making the preparations and serving—a combo of tasks that she’s made so overwhelming that she tells Jesus to take her side and get Mary to share the burden.
Martha’s major error was to let the menu overshadow the encounter. It’s thoroughly understandable that she would have been thrilled at receiving Jesus as a guest. Although Martha had very good intentions, she was putting on a show, demonstrating her respect by serving well, even as the menu eclipsed the guest. For all her generosity and hard work, it ultimately mattered little who was there because she focused on food. She was focused more on the details of hospitality than on the person who was the reason for the activity. Meanwhile Mary simply sat and listened to Jesus just like a male disciple would do.
Martha’s second mistake was to try to get Jesus to side with her. She should have known better than to try to get him to vindicate her. Nobody ever appealed to Jesus with self-justification and came out unscathed. Jesus responded to her just as he did to other novice disciples. In effect, he said, “You are not far from the kingdom . . . but neither are you there.” Martha got it half-right. Unlike Abraham, who remained with his guests as they ate, or Mary, who chose listening to Jesus instead of fussing over a feast, Martha let agitation about the kitchen cancel out the nourishment that comes from being in Jesus’ presence.
Time spent with our guests is far more important than time spent over the stove.
I suspect that most of us are more like Martha, busy about many things. What are your worries? What are your distractions? How attentive are you to God in your life? What gets priority if you are praying and the phone rings with a call or a text? Did you actually hear the homily today? Could you summarize it and share it with someone else?
How attentive will you be to Jesus in the Eucharist today? Will you spend some time talking to and listening to Him in your heart and mind? Maybe you are in a hurry to get somewhere after Mass. I like it when I see people who will come early to prepare themselves to be more open and attentive to God’s Word and to the Eucharist. I also like it when I see people stay after Mass to pray, or visit with and be present to someone around them. The deeper our relationship with each other the better we will be as a Christian community of disciples of Jesus.