Homily on the 16th Sunday
Genesis 18:1-10, Luke 10:38-42
Someone made a recent study among American people. They surveyed American women, men, and teenagers. The question: what is your greatest need now? The ladies said that their greatest desire is for more time. According to the participants of this survey, there is not enough time in a day. They say that they have more things to accomplish in a limited period of time. The things they have to do from work, to taxing their kids from one event to another, to various chores around the home, to the countless other time-consuming activities that occupy their ever-diminishing waking hours. Most of the men who participated in this survey complained that because of all of the various things that they have to do, they have less and less time to do the things that is really important. Even many teenagers today use Palm Pilots or pocket organizers to keep their calendar straight, because they have so many different things to do from different commitments. Basically, we live in an age and in a culture in which we think that there are so many things that we “have to” do. And because of this workaholic mentality and life style, we are losing our sense of serenity, peace and spirituality. The result of this life style is terrible. Children never get a chance being with their parents, family relationship is breaking down and people are becoming sick in mind and body.
Dr. James Rueb, in his book “Overcoming Busyness-who is a time-management guru, a professor in the business school at Harvard, speaks about A, B, and C priorities, and then he states that too many people spend too much of their time on the C priorities! And then he asks, “Why do you think that is?” The answer is that the C priorities are, first, much easier to accomplish, and, second, give you the impression that you are actually getting something done. In other words you can keep busy with the C priorities all day and never get to the more important things. The lesson from Mary and Martha is “Don’t let the good (the C priorities) get in the way of the best (the A priorities).) Sound like anyone you know?
Hospitality was a responsibility and privilege highly valued by the Jewish people. In offering hospitality, we may be entertaining angels (Heb 13:2) or even God Himself (Gn 18:17ff). Abraham and Sarah, for example, offered hospitality to God and two angels. As a result, God promised them they would miraculously have a son, although both were almost a hundred years old (see Gn 18:10). Hospitality is the breeding ground of promise, blessing, and miracles. Jesus even gave us His body and blood in the context of the hospitality of the Last Supper. To qualify as a Christian leader, a person must be hospitable (1 Tm 3:2). Therefore, Martha’s hospitality was a great work of God.
Prior to our high-tech times, a family began preparing a meal by picking out a steer and working with flour (Gn 18:6-7). No freezer, microwaves, or packaged foods! To offer hospitality was a monumental, sacrificial task. We can understand why Martha complained about being left alone to do such daunting household tasks (Lk 10:40). What is the message of the scripture today? We should imitate Abraham, Sarah, and Martha by making great sacrifices in offering hospitality. We also need to imitate Mary by sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to His words (Lk 10:39). This too is a formidable task. Listening to someone, especially to God, is often more challenging than the hardest work. Some people say they are like Martha; others say they are like Mary. However, the Lord is not calling us to be Martha or Mary, but Martha and Mary. All workers must be listening to the Lord, or they won’t know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. All listeners need to do some working. Those who hear God’s Word must do God’s Word, or they will be deceiving themselves (Jas 1:22). “Work with anxious concern to achieve your salvation” (Phil 2:12). Only those who are like both Martha and Mary are like Jesus. Be like Jesus.
Every story in the bible is more than just a story. It has a profound spiritual message for the listeners. We have to go beyond the letters of the story. The word Jesus speaks to Martha is a very important teaching of Jesus. Martha, Martha you are worried about so many things; but only one thing is necessary. Martha and Mary have become symbols of two possible attitudes towards life. They have become symbols of two forces in mankind or two kinds of concern. Martha is concerned about many things, but all of them are finite and transitory, things of this material world, which would come to a conclusion one day! Mary is concerned about one thing, which is infinite, ultimate, lasting and everlasting! Only one thing is necessary because all other things can be taken away from us. They all come to an end. Have you visited people in the ICU; who are dying and struggling for the last breath. At that time, if you try to tell them about fancy house, big car, or even about the children whom they love the most, are they interested?. They would be saying, go away give me some air! They are looking up and say, finally I see You Lord ( ICU) Only one thing matters! Raising a beautiful family, working hard to provide for your family, going on vacation, eating great meals etc etc are very important. But nothing is as important as taking care of our soul. That should be our number one priority. How do we take care of our soul? It is only by spending time with the Lord, which would slowly lead you to falling in love with the Lord. Today, let’s therefore examine our 24 hours a day! How much time do we spend to take care of that most important thing? For Mary in our story, relationship with the Lord comes 1st and she is taking care of her soul. Jesus praised her saying, you have chosen the better part! Mary has the right priority!
Mark tells us that when Jesus called the apostles to follow him, he called them for a dual purpose: “to be with him and to be sent out to proclaim the message” (Mark 3:14). That is the reason Jesus calls every person; to be with Him and to be send out. To know him and make Him known! The Gospel story today challenges me as a priest to slow down, sit down and listen and fall in love with Him! Then only I will be empowered to share Him with others, period!
Few practical things we can start practicing:
- Being hospitable at Mass
- Promoting that spirit of hospitality to others.
- Doing everything for the glory of God.
- Doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way, in the spirit of saints!