For the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cyber-version homily):
This weekend our Bible readings bring us a rich lesson from both Old & New Testaments. God’s Word also enlightens the sometimes conflict between work and prayer, the hunger and needs of this world versus those of the spirit and soul.
The Scripture from Genesis (Gn 18:1-10a) shares the account of the visit of the Lord and two angels to the house of Abraham. It goes on to show the ancient and sacred place of hospitality in the Mid-east. It was through this lifestyle of justice and hospitality, the WORK of the hands and hearts of Sarah and Abraham that they both entertained God and His angels but also received the promises and graces of God.
This brings us to the Gospel. From Luke (Lk 10:38-42) we read of the visit of Jesus to the house of Martha and Mary. Over the centuries this story has the extolled the prayerful listening of Mary versus the care and toil of her sister. Most Christians today, if asked, would probably say it would be better to “be a Mary” rather than a Martha. This may well miss the point that Jesus was seeking to make. It is important to notice that Christ never rebuked Martha for her service, her work. He only replied to her question and concerns. It also overlooks the context of the rest of the Gospel account of Martha’s life. It was Martha who got up and sought the Lord when her brother Lazarus died. It was Martha to whom Christ shared the revelation of the resurrection.
Jesus seeks us to listen to and rest with Him. The call of prayer and contemplation is sacred, holy and urgently needed in the rush and noise of this world. Our call to follow the example of Mary cannot be ignored. Yet we are also called, as our Epistle (Col 1:24-28) reminds us to fill up in our flesh, that is the actions , WORK of our hands and life, the sufferings of Christ. We are also called to serve our Lord, in the example of Martha, Abraham and Sarah. In our simple acts of cooking, cleaning tending to the chores of this life we can know and hear the voice of our Lord as we also make our tasks, acts of prayer.
In the work that God gives our hearts, and hands may we hear the voice and take the hands of He who carried the wood of our salvation in love for each of us.