Homily (Reflection) for the Sixteenth Sunday of the Year, (C) (17th July, 2016) on the Gospel
Gen 18:1-10;Ps 14:2-5 (R.v.1);
One seminarian on apostolic work experience visited one family during his home visitation. A little girl of about six years old welcomed him and immediately informed him of her mum’s absence. And without wasting time, she excused herself to announce his arrival to her father who was upstairs. After about ten minutes, the little girl resurfaced with a gift from her father. He was too busy to spare even a minute for the seminarian. How would you feel if you were in the shoes of this seminarian?
Topic: Marriage is the solution.
Jesus entered the house of Martha and Mary in today’s gospel. Martha was distracted by her many tasks. However, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to Him. It is important to recall that even when their brother Lazarus died a similar episode also played out, cf. Jn 11:20. It will really be strange if such sisters do not misunderstand themselves often; for Mary, Martha worries too much and for Martha, Mary must be one of the most insensitive creatures on earth. We see Martha complain to Jesus, “Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.”
Jesus said to her, “...Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” If Jesus’ response is looked at in isolation, the conclusion most probably will be, ‘Martha is wrong whereas Mary is right’. Robert J. Karris advised that this be understood in line with the era of household Christianity when women hosted the church in their houses. Again, Jesus said to the seventy (seventy two) disciples while sending out, “Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide .... Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you” (Lk 10:7-8). If Martha was wrong, how could the people have presented anything to the disciples or would it have been another experience of 1Kgs 19:5-8?
We see in Martha, someone very much interested in taking care of others’ physical needs without caring to spend a minute with them. On the other hand, Mary is a very good listener, who enjoys others’ presence but is not bothered about other needs of her guest/s. Just before we proceed, who do you prefer as your hostess?
It will not be fair to consider any of these characters as good and the other bad. Both characters are very important. For Barclay, there is nothing wrong in either Martha or Mary. “Both are serving God. God needs his Marys and his Marthas, too”. And for Robert J. Karris, the lesson is that the foundation of following Jesus is listening to his word. And inasmuch as listening to the word of God is important, putting it into practice is equally important.
Martha and Mary represent two extremes. Mary without Martha possess a problem likewise Martha without Mary. There is need for Mary to have Martha and Martha to have Mary. Aristotle in his Nichomachean Ethics rightly asserted, in medio stat virtus, meaning, virtue stands in the middle. There is need for a marriage between the mary in Mary and the martha in Martha. To be a good Christian is to have the two wherever one is.
Bible Reading: Lk 8:4-15. 14:15-24; 2Thess 3:6-15.
Thought for today: Are you a Martha or a Mary or someone in-between?
Let us pray: Lord, give me the grace to be Martha and Mary wherever I am – Amen.
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The gospel according to Luke. In The new Jerome biblical commentary (2000). London: Geoffrey Chapman. p.702.
 The daily study, bible, IV p.142.
 The gospel according to Luke. In The new Jerome biblical commentary (2000). London: Geoffrey Chapman. p.702.