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RELIGION LITURGY AND LIFE

16TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME

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In our Gospel reading for this Sunday we hear all about Martha and Mary. On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus led his entourage into the village to call at  the home of Martha. As the good host, she served them but, her sister, Mary, sat listening to Jesus. Martha tried to shame Mary into helping with the work but Jesus would have none of it. Instead, he praised Mary’s choice when he said leave her alone for she has chosen the better part. Martha loved Jesus as much as Mary did, and it is clear that he treasured them both. Her mistake was in not trying to find out how Jesus wanted to be entertained, while visiting her house. Her sister correctly senses that when Jesus comes on a visit the last thing he wants is to have people fussing over how to feed him. So, while Martha makes the greater housekeeping effort, Mary understands better what is expected of her by him. Her contemplative intuition grasps instinctively the real reason for Jesus’ visit.  He is there not to receive but to give, not to be served but to serve. He has something he needs to say and the one thing necessary is to listen to his voice.

There a whole theology of contemplation in this gospel reading, on how to receive the Lord’s visit. It starts off from the basis that, no matter who our visitors may be, there is always something to be learned, something from them. The one who comes knocking on our door will have something to tell us, should be listened to and understood. When Jesus comes to us he wants to talk to us in the quiet of the evening or the freshness of the morning, to share with us the Word that brings us to salvation. He comes not because he needs us but because we need him. We too can be “distracted with all the serving;” we too can “worry and fret about so many things.” We may, like Martha, miss the better part, the one thing necessary, which is to submit to the Word of God. If we are to make people welcome in our community it will be by being attentive to who that person is are what they seek rather than giving them the impression that their presence is disrupting our well ordered lives. let us not be afraid of being like Mary and be attentive to what Jesus is telling each of us today.

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