Sunday, July 21, 2013

Homily for Sunday: July 21

Image by Larry Van Pelt

Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily



Who among us doesn’t have a brother or a sister,
a husband or a wife, a son or a daughter,  a mother or father,
a colleague at work, a fellow volunteer on a committee or sports team
- about whom-
we haven’t said, or at least thought,
 “How come I get stuck doin’ all the work                       
while so-and-so’s always taking it easy”?

And sure enough, in many cases, “so-and-so” is taking it easy
while you, and maybe a few others, are doing all the work.

But today’s gospel isn’t about fair divisions of labor.
It’s not about who’s the employee of the month.
It’s not about justice in the work place 
or in the home or on a committee.

Today’s gospel is not even so much about Martha and Mary.
It's about Jesus
and how we come to know him, to love him and to serve him.

Imagine for a moment that in the story we just heard
Martha kept busy about her chores and hospitality
and Mary turned to Jesus and said,
 “Lord, don’t you care about all the noise she's making out there?
She's so busy she won't even come out and talk to you.
I think you ought to say something to her!"

Might Jesus not have turned to Mary and said,

 “Mary– what’s your problem?
Martha’s working hard to prepare a nice meal.           
She’s doing what you and I are talking about: she’s serving others.”

We often approach this gospel story wondering:
“Am I more like Martha or am I more like Mary?”
As if I ought to choose between the two.
But look at the first reading today:
it’s all about hospitality and doing for the visitor!
And it’s in serving the three visitors
that Abraham and Sarah come to know the Lord
and his promise to them that they’ll have a child.

In the gospel text, in response to Martha’s complaint,
Jesus tells her, “There is need of only one thing…”
Then he points to her sister Mary’s prayerful attentiveness.

Is that the “one thing” you need?       
Is that the “one thing” I need?
Are we “anxious and worried, too busy about many things”
while the “one thing” we need is to make time to sit with the Lord
and be with him, listening, in prayer, for his voice, for his word?

Or is the one thing I need a good kick in the butt,
to get me moving (at my own pace, whatever that might be)
to move me from contentment to service,
from contemplation to action,
from convenience to sacrifice for others?

The story here doesn’t give us many details.
it doesn’t tell us what happened right after Jesus spoke to Martha.
It ends right there.
But after telling Martha that Mary had chosen the better part,
can’t you easily imagine Jesus following Martha back into the kitchen
and asking if she needs a hand getting things ready for dinner?

Isn't that what Jesus would do?

Whether we’re praying or working, the Lord is with us.
If I get lost in my work and my worries,
I might need to make more time for prayer.
And if my prayer isn’t leading me to reach out to my neighbor,
then I might need to take a good, long look 
at how freely I serve other people.

Our prayer is meant to nourish and strengthen us for service
and it’s in serving one another that we meet Christ
who comes to us in the lives of our brothers and sisters in need.

Like Mary, all of us together, here this morning,
have just spent some time sitting at the Lord’s feet,
listening to his voice in the word of the scriptures.

And now he’ll invite us to his table

where, like Martha, he’s prepared for us a feast for us,
a feast of grace:
the food of his life laid down for us on the Cross
and shared with us now
in the Bread and the Cup of the Eucharist.

Pray with me that what we do here together
will lead us to spend some time every day
sitting quietly with the Lord in prayer
and pray that what we share at his altar
will give us an appetite for serving one another
as Christ has served us.


 

     
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