HOMILY FOR SIXTEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME (C)

 

 Today’s first reading describes how Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality to strangers was rewarded by God. In the second reading to Colossians, we see how Saint Paul suffered many hardships in preaching the Good News brought by Jesus, the same Messiah whom he had encountered on the way to Damascus.  He reported that he had not only been invited to join the suffering ministry of the risen Jesus, but had also been given the insight that he was actually suffering "on behalf of His body, which is the Church."

The gospel passage describes how Martha, a true child of Abraham, wanted to extend the traditional generous hospitality of her people to Jesus, the true Messiah, by preparing an elaborate meal for him, while her sister Mary spent her time in talking to him and listening to him. Presenting Martha as a dynamo of action and Mary as a good listener to the word of God, today’s gospel invites us to serve others with Martha’s diligence after recharging our spiritual batteries every day by prayer - listening to God and talking to God – as Mary did. We are able to minister truly to the needs of others only after hosting God’s words in our hearts and minds.

There is a story told of three preachers who sat discussing the best positions for prayer while a telephone repairman worked nearby. "Kneeling is definitely best," claimed one.       
      "No," another contended. "I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven."       
      "You're both wrong," the third insisted. "The most effective prayer position is lying prostrate, face down on the floor."       
      The repairman could contain himself no longer. "Hey, fellas, “he interrupted, "the best prayin' I ever did was hangin' upside down from a telephone pole."

Today, we can see a divine as well as a human Jesus: He is tired of his journey and lets this Bethany family He loves so much to welcome him. He will take advantage of this moment to let us know “what matters the most”.

In the attitude of these two sisters, we can detect two different ways of living the Christian vocation: the active and contemplative life. Mary who sat down at the Lord's feet, while Martha was busying herself with plenty of chores and all the serving, always happy, but tired. Jesus tells her, you worry and are troubled about many things, but you must have a rest, and even more, you must rest by my side, looking at me, listening to me. Two different models of Christian life we must coordinate and integrate: to live Martha's way as much as Mary's way. We have to be attentive to Lord's word, and, at the same time, alert for, more often than not, the noise and daily bustle may hide God's presence. Because a Christian's life and strength can only stay firm and grow if he maintains close ties with the true vine.

Most of us have been called by God to be like “Martha”. But, we should not forget that the Lord wants us to be more and more like “Mary” too: Jesus Christ has also called us “to choose the best part” and to let no one take it from us. 

He reminds us that the most important thing is not what we can do, but God's word, that lightens our lives by soaking our works and deeds with the Holy Spirit’s love.

To rest in the Lord is only possible if we can enjoy the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament - it is the greatest treasure we Christians have. Let us remember the name of John Paul II's last encyclical: ‘The Church lives from Eucharist’. Our Lord has many things to tell us, many more than we think. Let us, therefore, seek those moments of silence and peace, to help us find Jesus again and, in him, to find ourselves once more. Jesus Christ invites us today to choose an option: to choose the better part (Lk 10:42).

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