Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
July 17, 2022 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Genesis 18:1-10a | Psalm 15:2-5
I Corinthians 1:24-28 | Luke 10:38-42

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.                                           

Have you ever gotten so involved with something that you forgot why you were even doing it?

Father Mark Lin told a story to his congregation about a father who came to a school’s PTA meeting, and during a talk with one of his son’s teachers, he broke down in tears.  After regaining his composure, he apologized and told the teacher that his son no longer lived with him.

But he still loved his son and wanted to know how he was doing in school.  He then went on to tell the teacher how his wife and four children left him and moved out.  He was a general contractor and sometimes ended up working sixteen hours a day.  Consequently, he saw little of his family and they slowly grew farther and farther apart.  Then he concluded by saying, “I wanted to buy my wife and kids all those things that I never had and provide a comfortable life for them.  But in the process, I got so involved in working that I forgot about what they needed the most:  a father who was around at dinner and other times to give them the love and support they needed.”

This sad story illustrates how we can get so involved pursuing the things that money can buy that we forget about the most important things which money cannot buy.

Sometimes we get so busy with what we are doing that we even forget God!

And although she meant well, Martha made the same mistake in today’s Gospel from Luke when she was critical of her sister Mary for not helping her prepare the meal for Jesus and His disciples instead of listening to His teaching.

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke about our priorities getting mixed up when we treat as major that which is minor and vice versa in my homily on July Third.

Perhaps if Martha had prepared a simpler meal, she would have been able to join Jesus and Mary.  In our home, Father David does most of the cooking when we entertain guests, and I stay in the living room and converse with the guests while serving the hors d’oeuvres. Both skills are equally important in successfully entertaining people. It is interesting to note that Martha performs the kind of generosity and hospitality that Jesus commends later in the Gospel of Luke.

Abraham welcomes strangers into his home and he and Sarah prepare a fine meal for them in today’s first reading from Genesis.  Through their hospitality, they showed their spirituality, so God chose to reward and bless them.  We must remember that God’s love is unconditional and our love of God should be unconditional as well, not just because we are expecting a reward.

When he wrote our second reading from First Corinthians, Saint Paul was imprisoned for preaching about Jesus.  He proclaims that Jesus is the hidden mystery that God has given to the world.  When we accept this mystery, we are beginning our lifelong relationship with Jesus and will eventually become heirs to eternal life with Him.

The two messages from our Gospel story of Mary and Martha are hospitality and love of God. They are both intertwined realities.  It is regrettable that this story has made Martha the poster child of someone who works for a living to take care of others.  In Medieval times, those who worked were considered to be inferior to those who led a life of contemplation in the monastery.

Our first reading illustrates the importance of hospitality since when you entertain and serve your guests, you are serving God.  Our Gospel story of Mary and Martha tells how Martha was the one who went out to meet Jesus and bring Him to their home.  Since Jesus probably brought the disciples with Him, there was much preparation in serving thirteen guests.   Martha was all by herself in preparing and she got a little upset that Mary was not offering to help her.  So she went to Jesus and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”  “Tell her then to help me.”

Instead of Jesus telling Mary to help Martha, he said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Now, if these words leave you puzzled about what it means to be hospitable, then you’re not alone.

If you are the host, aren’t you supposed to be kind and generous about serving your guests?  Do you not prepare food and drink for them?

Jesus was not putting Martha down, but simply reminding her that prayer and contemplation are more important in our lives when it comes to serving others, and that one needs to balance the amount of work we do in preparation of our guests with contemplation and prayer.

Again, maybe if Martha had planned a simpler meal, she would have had more time to share with sitting at the feet of Jesus with Mary; this would have eliminated the tension she felt.

Jesus wants all of us to set aside time for prayer and spiritual growth daily.  This should be our main priority in developing and maintaining our relationship with Jesus.

So, going forward, let’s not allow anything to prevent us from spending time each and every day in prayer and contemplation with Jesus.  This is what He wants us to do, and as stated in Psalms, “The just will live in the presence of the Lord.” AMEN.