Synopsis: OT XVI [C] Sunday (July 21) Homily on Lk 10: 38-42 (L-19)
Introduction: The central themes of today’s readings are the importance of hospitality in Christian life and the necessity of listening to God before acting. The key to the Christian life is setting priorities: Jesus Christ first, then everything else. The only way really to learn that lesson is to spend some time every day, “sitting at the feet of Jesus.”
Scripture lessons: Today’s first reading describes how Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality to angels in the guise of strangers was rewarded by God, who blessed them with a son in their old age. In the second reading, Paul declares that he was commissioned by God to minister to the Church, as the revealer of the mystery of salvation and the preacher of the word in its fullness (v. 25). He invites believers to open their hearts and minds and to show their hospitality to the mystery of Christ which he preaches. Paul also challenges us to cultivate that quality of hospitality which welcomes all others in Christ. The Gospel passage describes how Martha, a true child of Abraham, wanted to extend the traditional generous hospitality of her people to Jesus, the true Messiah, by preparing an elaborate meal for him, while her sister Mary spent her time in talking to Jesus and listening to him. Presenting Martha as a dynamo of action and Mary as a true listener to the word of God, today’s Gospel invites us to serve others with Martha’s diligence after recharging our spiritual batteries every day by prayer – listening to God and talking to God – as Mary did. We can minister truly to the needs of others only after welcoming God’s Word into in our hearts and minds.
Life Messages: 1) We need to recharge our spiritual batteries: We should put aside the work we do for the Lord in serving others and just spend some time being with Him, talking to Him and listening to Him, fully aware of His holy presence in our souls. We may also recharge our spiritual energy by means of our personal and family prayers, our meditative reading of the Bible and our participation in the celebration of the Holy Mass.
2) We need listening Marthas and serving Marys: Martha has become a symbol of action-oriented, responsible people who get the job done. Our world and our parish churches need such dynamic and generous men, women, boys and girls. We need them to sing in the choir, to help in the Church, to teach in the Sunday school, to visit the sick and the shut-ins and to serve in all other ministries of the parish community. 3) We need to be good listeners, like Mary, at home and in the workplace. Active and busy as we are, we must find time every day to listen to God, to our spouse, kids and neighbors. Listening and quiet caring are essential for the success of married life, of family life and of the rearing of children with love, affection and a sense of discipline. Human love begins at home, and it begins with listening
OT XVI [C] (July 21) Gn 18:1-10a; Col 1:24-28; Lk 10:38-42 (Full text)
Homily starter anecdote: # 1: Southern Marthas & Mary-Marthas: Like women of many other countries and cultures, Southern women in the United States are great Marthas and proud of it. These women, who have traditional Southern hospitality refined to an art, never sit. They hover. Plates are never allowed to go empty. Guests are continually asked if they need anything. In fact, many times the hostess will continue to cook all through the meal. When does the hostess eat? This is one of the South’s mysteries. The hostess keeps working, huffing around the table. She misses all dinner conversation, all sharing of feelings and information, and gives herself totally to serving. A second type of Southern woman is Mary-Martha. Unflustered, she greets the guests at the door. The table is already set and the kitchen is spotless. This hostess sits, talks, laughs and eats the appetizers with her guests. She excuses herself, goes to the kitchen, and returns with food that’s prepared and ready to eat. At dinner, she remains with those gathered around the table, getting to know the guests, asking about their lives, sharing her own thoughts and feelings. In today’s Gospel, Jesus expresses his preference for Mary-Marthas over Southern Marthas. (Mary W. Ander).
# 2: “Start each day with an hour of prayer. “A true story is told about an advertising executive at Reader’s Digest, who found her emptiness filled in by prayer, listening to God, as Mary did in today’s Gospel. In spite of her successful career, she had felt emptiness in her life. One morning, during a breakfast meeting with her marketing consultant, she mentioned that emptiness. “Do you want to fill it?” her colleague asked. “Of course, I do,” she said. He looked at her and replied, “Then start each day with an hour of prayer.” She looked at him and said, “Don, you’ve got to be kidding. If I tried that, I’d go off my rocker.” Don smiled and said, “That’s exactly what I said 20 years ago.” The woman left the restaurant in turmoil. Begin each morning with prayer? Begin each morning with an hour of prayer? Absolutely out of the question! Yet, the next morning she found herself doing exactly that. And she’s been doing it ever since. This woman is the first to admit that it has not always been easy. There have been mornings when she was filled with great peace and joy. But there have been other mornings when she was filled with nothing but weariness. And it was on these weary mornings that she remembered something else that her marketing consultant said. “There will be times when your mind just won’t go into God’s sanctuary. That’s when you spend your hour in God’s waiting room. Still, you’re there, and God appreciates your struggle to stay there.” Today’s Gospel reminds us of the need to combine work and prayer.
# 3: “I would like to be married to both of them”: Some single men in a Bible study group were discussing who would make the better wife–Martha or Mary. One fellow said, “Well, I think Martha would make the better wife. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. It sounds like Martha surely knew how to cook. I would love to be married to a woman like that!” Another man said, “I think Mary would make the better wife. She was always so thoughtful, sweet and loving. I could be very happy, married to a woman like Mary!” Finally, another fellow settled the argument when he said, “Well, I would like to be married to both of them. I would like Martha before supper and Mary after supper.” Today’s Gospel challenges us to combine the listening spirit of Mary with the dynamic spirit of Martha in our Christian lives.
#4: “She can sit all evening at the feet of a friend and not say anything.” The headline on the cover of Sports Illustrated some time back read: “Sportswoman of the Year.” One of the pictures on the cover showed Mary Decker pressing the tape as she defeated, by inches, the Soviet champion, Zamira Zaitseva, in the 1500-meter world championship race. The article went on to describe Decker’s phenomenal performances in San Diego, Los Angeles, Gateshead (England), Stockholm, Paris, and Oslo. One comment was made about Mary Decker by the writer of the article that is relevant to our discussion today. He wrote, “She can sit all evening at the feet of a friend and not say anything, just smile and let the talk wash over her.”[Kenny Moore, “She Runs and We Are Lifted,” Sports Illustrated (December 26, 1983), p. 38.] Today’s Gospel tells us about another Mary, Mary of Bethany, who did the same thing when Jesus made his last visit to her home.
Introduction: The central themes of today’s readings are the importance of hospitality in Christian life and the necessity of listening to God before acting. Jesus welcomed and tended to the needs of all, reflecting in his actions the very hospitality of God. The key to the Christian life is SETTING PRIORITIES: Jesus Christ first, then everything else. The only way really to learn that lesson is to spend some time every day, “sitting at the feet of Jesus.” Today’s first reading describes how Abraham and Sarah’s hospitality to strangers was rewarded by God. The Gospel passage describes how Martha, a true child of Abraham, wanted to extend the traditional generous hospitality of her people to Jesus, the true Messiah, by preparing an elaborate meal for him, while her sister Mary spent her time in talking to him and listening to him. Presenting Martha as a dynamo of action and Mary as a true listener to the word of God, today’s Gospel invites us to serve others with Martha’s diligence, after recharging our spiritual batteries every day by prayer – listening to God and talking to God – as Mary did. We are able to minister truly to the needs of others only after welcoming God’s Word into our hearts and minds.
First reading — Genesis 18:1-10, explained: This is the story of Abraham and Sarah and their offering of hospitality to three strangers. Both the ancient Jews and the early Christians believed that the best way to show their dedication to God was to be dedicated to hospitality. Three visitors appeared unexpectedly before Abraham’s tent. Abraham was wealthy enough to play the very generous host with the best of his contemporaries, and he was spiritually keen, sensing that his visitors were disguised angels. He and his wife, Sarah promptly started making preparations for a lavish meal with which to refresh their guests. Their generous hospitality was even more generously rewarded. God, speaking through the guests, promised that the aged couple would have a son within a year! The birth announcement was a sign of the fulfillment of God’s promises of progeny, prosperity, and property, a homeland for Abraham. If we open our hearts and our homes to God, the impossible can happen – God’s presence can overturn things. For the Israelites, this story was a sign of how God’s plan of salvation would be carried out through them, and they waited for the promised Messiah from the offspring of Abraham and Sarah. Because of his exemplary hospitality, Abraham has been featured in rabbinic stories as the founder of inns for travelers and the inventor and teacher of grace after meals. He may have been the inspiration for the missionary host who insisted that his guests praise Israel’s God for their room and board or pay cash for it!
Second reading — Colossians 1: 24-28, explained: Paul did not establish the Christian community at Colossae. But the elders there appealed to him for help in some doctrinal and disciplinary issues, and Paul agreed to assist them. In the second reading, Paul presents his credentials to the Colossians. Saint Paul had suffered many hardships in preaching the Good News brought by Jesus, the same Messiah whom he had encountered on the way to Damascus. He reported that he had not only been invited to join the suffering ministry of the risen Jesus but had also been given the insight that he was actually suffering “on behalf of His body, which is the Church.” Paul could honestly look even at the Gentiles and state that he saw “Christ in you, the hope for glory.” Paul was speaking figuratively when he stated that he filled up what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ (v. 24). Obviously, the saving sacrifice of Jesus was absolute and complete. Therefore, Paul’s statement should be understood as a metaphorical expression of the author’s incredible closeness to Christ as a member of His Body, the Church, a closeness which enabled him to make Jesus’ suffering his own. What was lacking was not the atoning power of the cross but its manifestation in the Church as a present reality. Paul also believed that he had been commissioned by God to minister to the Church, as the revealer of the mystery of salvation and the preacher of the word in its fullness (v. 25). Paul invites believers to open their hearts and minds to welcome the mystery of Christ. Those who consent, by Faith, to become “hosts” of the mystery are thereby challenged to cultivate that quality of hospitality that welcomes all others in Christ.
Gospel exegesis: Home away from home: Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary were good friends of Jesus. Their little village of Bethany was located two miles from Jerusalem, and according to the Gospel of John, Jesus visited Jerusalem at least six times. In other words, Jesus, the most popular rabbi of the time, often visited the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus as their closest family friend. In addition, Jesus was the Messiah who had raised Lazarus from death and given him back to his sisters. It was Mary’s simple statement of Faith that brought tears to our Lord’s eyes; “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” [John 11:32]. Furthermore, Jesus had made no secret that this was his last journey, as he had stated repeatedly that he would die in Jerusalem. Since Martha owned the house, and she was the older sister, she decided to make the last dinner for their great friend something very special.
The problem of hospitality in the early House Churches: Luke might have been using this incident from the life of Jesus to address a common problem of hospitality in House Churches (the only kind of Churches there were!) where the early Christians gathered for prayer and the Eucharistic service. Traditional values and hospitality would have placed a heavy expectation on the woman of the house, while the guests were listening to the preaching of the apostles or elders. The story is thus an indirect invitation for all the participants to share in the arrangements and preparation of the food. That would enable everyone to participate in the whole Eucharistic service and would save the host family from unnecessary worries. The assembled Marys should approach the Martha of the house and say “Let’s listen to the preacher first, and then let’s work together in the kitchen to feed the assembled ones.” Everyone was to be included and no one was to be left aside, trapped in a cooking role which kept her from participating in the entire service.
Our priorities: The episode is also intended to teach us how we should set our priorities. Traditionally, today’s Gospel story has been interpreted to mean that the quiet life of contemplation and prayer led by monks and nuns and personified in Mary, is superior to a busy life of activity and action, personified in Martha. Jesus did not intend to belittle Martha and her activity, but rather to show that hearing the word of God is the foundation of all action, and that the word of God must permeate all other concerns. The highest priority must be given to listening to the word. Prayer and actions must be continuous, complementary and mutually dependent. Prayer without action is sterile, and action without prayer is empty. We are expected to be “contemplatives in action” because only those who listen carefully to the Word of God know how to behave in the way that God wants, when they show deep concern for the well-being of other people. That is why Jesus reminds Martha that proper service for him is attention to his instruction, not just an elaborate provision for his physical needs. Mary shows her love for the Lord by listening to him. Jesus in fact, needed Mary and Martha to keep him company and to listen to him because he was preparing to face the cross. By this episode, Jesus teaches his disciples that those who minister among God’s people must be actively listening to his words thus becoming hospitable hosts and hostesses, welcoming into their hearts and attending to the good news of salvation. At every Mass, we are offered the very hospitality of Jesus at the table of the Eucharist to become both Mary and Martha. Both Mary and Martha are teaching would-be disciples that their following of Jesus and their service in his name will require frequent spiritual refueling by prayer, silence and communion with God. Otherwise, service can become a crushing responsibility, a burden rather than a vocation, or a loving response to the invitation of God.
Expression of love: In his Gospel, Luke frequently shows women in places of honor. Here, Mary is presented as sitting at Jesus’ feet to receive his teaching, the posture of a disciple, a man’s role in that time and place. Mary’s presumptuous posture and the attention she was receiving may have embarrassed Martha. Martha may have suspected, as many cast in her mold do, that Jesus loved her ‘spiritual’ sister better than herself, and that Jesus had little regard for the mundane work she was doing in the kitchen. Hence, it is no wonder that Martha was distracted! Her hands were busy, but her resentments were busier. How are we to understand the complementarities of Martha’s hospitality in meeting Jesus’ need for food, and Mary’s longing for personal communion with him? Our love of God must become incarnate in whatever we do to meet the needs of others. Thus, our good work – whether cooking a meal or voting for a bill in Congress – becomes a sacrament or an effective sign of our self-giving love. The proper service of Jesus is attention to his instruction not an elaborate provision for his physical needs.
Life Messages: 1) We need to recharge our spiritual batteries: It is a well-known fact that those who are in the caring professions, like doctors, nurses, pastors, social workers and even parents, often suffer from burnout and terminal exhaustion as Martha did. People suffering from burnout often end up angry, anxious, and worried. Hence, occasionally we need to put aside the work we do for the Lord in serving others and just spend some time being with Him, talking to Him and listening to Him, fully aware of His holy presence in our souls. We may do the recharging of our spiritual energy also by our personal and family prayers, by the meditative reading of the Bible and by participating in the celebration of the Holy Mass. Christian husbands and wives should develop “couple spirituality” and seek more opportunities to pray together. The Martha and Mary episode teaches us the need for balance between service and prayer and the need for spending time with the Lord, learning from Him and recharging our spiritual batteries with the power of the Holy Spirit.
2) We need listening Marthas and serving Marys: Martha has become a symbol of action-oriented, responsible people who get the job done. Our world needs such men, women, boys and girls, and so does the Church. How would the Church survive if not for the Marthas and Bills who sing in the choir, run the altar guild, work with the homeless, work with the youth, and build the Church? The Church could not exist without them. The same is true with the family. We need responsible people to do the work in the house: to cook, to clean, to keep the house operating, to pay the bills, to keep the cars running, not to speak of rearing the children and loving the spouse. Households can’t survive without Marthas and Bills. Nor can offices, schools or businesses. There is nothing wrong with being a responsible, action-oriented, get-it-done kind of person. But we must find time to listen to God speaking to us through His word and time to talk to God. Jesus clearly said: be hearers and doers of the word. Jesus never reversed that order.
3) We need to be good listeners, like Mary, at home and in the workplace. Martha has become a symbol of you and me in the modern world. We have become so active and busy with living our lives that we no longer have time to slow down and quietly listen to God, or even to our spouse, kids or friends. We become so active in doing good things that our activities become a cover-up for our lack of listening and quiet caring. We come home from a day of work and the kids are talking to us at the kitchen table. We nod affirmatively at their words without listening. Our spouse wants to share what has happened during the day and we don’t hear a word that is spoken, being entirely preoccupied with what has happened at our workplace. Human love begins at home, and it begins with listening. The more one listens, the more love grows. The less one listens, the less love there is. This is certainly true in marriage. Any good marriage will show us a man and woman who have discovered what it means to listen to one another. That is also true in good families and in good businesses. We can so easily get the Martha-syndrome because there is always so much work to do: at our place of employment, at home with the kids or in the yard, at Church and school, at the various groups we or our children are a part of. But let’s not be like Martha who got distracted with much serving. Rather, let us take time out every day to listen to Jesus, to get to know Jesus better, to be His guest and to welcome Him as ours.
4) We need to serve the Lord with Martha’s diligence: Some of mankind’s greatest contributions have come from people who decided that no sacrifice was too large and no effort too great to accomplish what they set out to do. Edward Gibbon spent 26 years writing The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Noah Webster worked diligently for 36 years to bring into print the first edition of his Webster’s Dictionary. It is said that the Roman orator Cicero practiced before friends every day for 30 years in order to perfect his public speaking. Most of the famous scientists sacrificed their whole lives on their research for the betterment of human lives. Now let’s think about how much energy we put into the Lord’s work in an age when people are self-serving, self-centered, and self-indulgent. Why is our service for Christ sometimes performed in a halfhearted manner? Why do some people who pursue earthly goals put us to shame with their diligence?
5) God does us a favor by hosting a meal for us every Sunday: We don’t do God a favor by showing up for Church on Sunday and throwing something into the plate. This does nothing for God. It does not enhance His dignity or add anything to His power or glory. God does us a favor by hosting a meal for us every Sunday in which He offers Himself to us as food, in the most intimate act of communion with Himself imaginable. Mass is not about what we do for God, but about what God does for us. At this Sunday’s Mass, let’s pray more intensely for God to work in our hearts, to forgive our sin and transform the way we think and act, that we can become like the man of Psalm 15 who is suitable to dwell in God’s presence; or like Mary, who understood the “one thing” necessary and was willing to say “No” to distractions and demands in order to soak in the presence and teaching of Jesus. (The Sacred Space).
JOKE OF THE WEEK (Laughing Jesus pics)
(“Laughter is indeed God’s therapy. Let us then be thankful that, when the Gates of Heaven swing open, mixed with celestial music there is the unmistakable sound of celestial laughter.” (Malcom Muggeridge) Shortly after his election as pope, St. John XXIII was walking in the streets of Rome when a woman passed him and said to her friend, “My God, he’s so fat!” Overhearing her remark, he turned around and replied, “Madame, I trust you understand that the papal conclave is not exactly a beauty contest.”) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/the-saints-were-yes-funny_b_2057837 & https://medium.com/@CatholicExtension/the-saint-who-laughed-his-way-to-heaven-da5aaa205681
1) A day off for the pastor? A distraught woman tried many times to contact her pastor only to discover that it was his day off. She made contact with him the next day and scolded him severely. “Father, I needed you yesterday,” she said, “and you were not there for me. You have let me down. I cannot believe you would take a day off when so many people like me need you.” Then she added, “The devil never takes a day off.” The pastor, a little irritated and with tongue in cheek, responded, “And if I didn’t take a day off, I would be just like him, wouldn’t I?”
2) Pope St. John Paul II and busy-like-Martha. A person had been confined to a mental institute. After years of treatment it was decided that he was well enough to be discharged. So, the psychiatrist approached his patient to congratulate him. “I have good news for you. The board has examined your case and they have decided that you are completely cured. You can go home.” Seeing the resentful look on the face of the patient, the doctor said: “Why are you reacting in this way? Aren’t you happy now that you are cured?” And the man ranted back, “I am cured, but I am not going home! When I came here, I was Pope Francis. I was busy like Martha in the Bible story, blessing people, writing encyclicals and giving daily papal audience to all the inmates and visitors of this house. But I will be nobody at home!”
Websites of the week:
1) Children’s homilies: http://www.sermons4kids.com/index.htm
2) For moms: http://www.parenting.com/mom
3) Parenting tips & blogs: http://www.parenting.com/
25- Additional Anecdotes
1) “Peace of mind.” “Burnout” has become a term everybody knows, because we see people around us collapsing into numbness and addiction — if not to alcohol or drugs, to television or pleasure or to the rat-race of getting ahead. It’s little wonder that a USA Today poll a couple of years ago showed that an overwhelming majority of people from all walks of life, when asked what they wanted most from life, replied “peace of mind.” The tale of two sisters from Bethany, today’s Gospel, tells us how to have it. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
2) John 12:21: There is a time-honored story about a newly ordained young priest fresh out of seminary who was assigned to his first parish in a small, farming community. Each Sunday he preached exegetical sermons that had nothing to do with the lives of the people. In fact, over the years the village congregation had become quite patient and tolerant, gifted with the task of training young priests in the realities of Church life. Months went by, and then one Sunday the elderly sacristan who prepared the sanctuary for the Mass left a note on the pulpit. “Read John 12:21.” That’s all it said, John 12:21. Well, the young priest arrived in the sanctuary to prepare for the morning’s Mass. He saw the note on the pulpit which read “John 12:21.” A curious thing to find in the pulpit, he thought. So, he quickly thumbed through his Bible and found the passage which read: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (Merlin T. Batt, http://www.trucc.org/sermons/02‑03‑02.htm). In today’s Gospel story, while Martha was busy preparing to feed Jesus, Mary wanted to see Jesus and listen to him. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
3) C priorities: A time-management guru, a professor in the business school at Harvard, speaks about A, B, and C priorities, and then he notes 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? (Dr. James Rueb, Overcoming Busyness). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
4) One more football story. When Vince Lombardi took over the Green Bay Packers, they were on the bottom. In 1958, they lost 10 out of 12 games, tied 1 and won 1. When they came to camp in June of 1959 Vince Lombardi said, “Gentlemen, we are going to have a football team. We are going to win some games. Get that!” Now how were they going to do that? “You are going to learn to block, run and tackle,” he said. “You are going to outplay all the teams that come up against you.” Then he threw in the clincher! “You are to have confidence in me and enthusiasm for my system,” he ordered. “Hereafter, I want you to think of only three things: your home, your religion, and the Green Bay Packers.” We would quarrel with the order but not the spirit of Lombardi’s challenge. He had narrowed his priorities to those simple things that he considered important. We could learn from that. For we, too, must decide what is really important in our lives, as Mary did in today’s Gospel story. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
5) Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper: There was a cartoon in the New Yorker magazine in which a man and his wife were in a famous art gallery where they saw Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper. The man said to his wife, “That reminds me. I have an Administrative Board meeting tomorrow.” Do you get it? The Lord’s Supper was not a Church meeting, but a fellowship meal. Church meetings are important, but only if they are connected to God. All work and no pray soon produces a frazzled Christian. Does that not describe many people today both in the Church and out? A Gallup poll reveals that 95% of Americans hate their jobs. They derive from them very little meaning and find very little purpose in them. The highest incidence of heart attacks takes place on Monday mornings between 8:00 and 9:00 AM. [The Living Pulpit, Work Issue, Vol. 5, No. 3 (July-Sept. 1996), p. 8]. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
6) Set your priorities: There is a story about a man who was preparing his favorite breakfast of hot oatmeal when his daughter came rushing in with his little four-year-old grandson. “The babysitter has been delayed,” she explained, “and I’ve got to go to work. Will you keep Bobby for a few hours?” Granddad said, “Sure,” and his daughter left. Then Granddad scooped up two bowls of oatmeal. “Do you like sugar?” he asked. When Bobby nodded he asked, “How about some butter, too?” When his grandson nodded again he asked, “How about milk?” “Sure,” the boy said. But when the grandfather placed the steaming bowl of oatmeal in front of Bobby, the boy made a face and pushed it away. “But when I asked you, you said you liked sugar, butter and milk,” grandfather protested. “Yeah,” Bobby answered, “but you didn’t ask me if I like oatmeal.” Granddad forgot to ask the most elemental question. Sometimes we forget to do that, too. We never set priorities. We never list in our own minds what those things are that matter most. We allow life to buffet us here and there and we never center in on those things that really matter. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
7) Welcome to a man with his hat on: A man attending a crowded Church service refused to take off his hat when asked to do so by the ushers. Others also asked him to remove his hat, but he remained obstinate. The preacher was perturbed, too, and waited for the man after the service. He told the man that the Church was quite happy to have him as a guest, and invited him to join the Church, but he explained the traditional decorum regarding men’s hats and said, “I hope you will conform to that practice in the future.” “Thank you,” said the man. “And thank you for taking time to talk to me. It is good of you to invite me to join the congregation. In fact, I joined it three years ago and have been coming regularly ever since, but today is the first time that anyone paid attention to me. After being an unknown for three years, today, by simply keeping on my hat on, I have had the pleasure of talking with the ushers, several of the congregants and you. Thanks!” Our Scripture for this Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is about welcoming – about hospitality. It is about noticing the other and being attentive to the other. “Hospitality is the way we come out of ourselves. It is the first step toward dismantling the barriers of the world. Hospitality is the way we turn a prejudiced world around, one heart at a time.” (Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister). In our first reading, Abraham and Sarah go out of their way to entertain the stranger, and they receive God’s blessing. In the Gospel, Martha and Mary receive Jesus in their home at Bethany, each in her own characteristic way. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
8) Set your priorities correctly: A mountain guide, Michael Zanger, once told of leading some men up Mount Shasta. One man was having great difficulty breathing. His face coloring was unusual. Frequent stops for rest did not seem to help. As they continued to climb, his breathing was punctuated by coughing and spitting froth mixed with blood. To make matters worse, a sudden snowstorm confined them to hastily erected tents. Michael thought the man might die of heart failure. As he lay there, Michael revealed that they could call for rescuers because he had a cellular phone. The man showed interest. “Would you make a personal call for me?” asked the man. Michael thought to himself, “This man thinks he’s critical, and he wants to speak to his loved ones one last time,” so he said, “Yes.” “Well,” said the man, “would you call my broker in San Francisco and ask what the value of my stock is today?” That actually happened! The absurdity of what was important to this man became a frequent joke on future climbs (Gary Anderson in Eileen H. Wilmoth, 365 Devotions). Today’s Gospel warns us to set our priorities straight. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
9) “Tell me about Spitfires!” During World War II, the Royal Air Force flew Danny’s favorite plane of all time: the Spitfire. If a pilot flew a Spitfire, little Danny thought, he would always hit his target, and he would always return home. One day the British Consul, a retired pilot from Minneapolis came to Danny’s town to visit. Danny’s dad was chairman of the County War Bond drive so that gave him the honor of entertaining the British Consul in his home. His mother, Suzanne, went crazy with preparations. The day the Consul arrived 40 people crammed into three rooms to welcome this man. Each one of those people couldn’t wait to tell this tall, thin diplomat from England about the town, about how patriotic it was, about how he or she had a great-aunt in London, about how well the war was going. They all had plenty to say. Suzanne was running around fractiously trying to serve everybody and greet everybody. Finally, the British Consul sat down. For a split second he was actually by himself. The hostess had left to get him a drink; all the other guests momentarily turned away. Little Danny saw his chance. He ran to him and said to him: “Tell me about Spitfires!” The tall man looked at the eight-year-old and smiled. “I’ll tell you a story about Spitfires. I flew one early in the war. It was splendid. I shot down a Messerschmitt and I came home alive. The next time I wasn’t so lucky. That’s why I’m not flying anymore. What is your name? I’ll send you some pictures of Spitfires.” About a month later a letter came from Minneapolis. Inside was a folder about Spitfires and a note from the Consul: “Dear Danny. I enjoyed talking with you. You were the only one who had time to listen to me. Good luck.” He signed his name. Danny was the only person who didn’t barrage the Consul’s ears with information about the town and American patriotism. This small boy was the only one who said, “Tell me about Spitfires.” He was the only one who actually listened to him — even if it was just for a few minutes! Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus, too, needs somebody to listen to him as Mary of Bethany did. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
10) “Look busy, Man! Look busy!” A religious poll asked people this question: “Do you believe in the Second Coming of Christ?” If the respondent said yes, a subsequent question was put to them: “What would you do if you knew Jesus was coming back today?” One young man replied, “Look busy, Man! Look busy!” Isn’t that the mindset of our age? It seems as though most of us build our lives on the premise that personal worth and significance, as well as meaning in life, are dependent upon being busy. Too often we are identified by what we produce and what we achieve. We are even identified on the basis of how much we consume — not only of material goods but education, public events, passive hobbies and pleasure. (See Tilden Edwards, Sabbath). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
11) Prayer attributed to Nicholas Herman, known as Bro. Lawrence (17th century), who served as a lay brother and cook in a Carmelite monastery in Paris.
Lord of all pots and pans, since I’ve no time to be
A saint by doing lovely things, or watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in dawn light, or storming heaven’s gates
Make me a saint by getting meals and washing up the plates. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
12) Marymusicians and Marthameals: A perfect example of a Mary-Martha balance is in the ministry of the Marymusicians from Edison Lutheran Church of Bow, Washington. They are parishioners who pile into cars like Julie Wilkinson Rousseau’s ’66 Mustang convertible, at sundown, Wednesday evenings in the summer, to drive through the countryside sixty miles north of Seattle and make their way onto the porches of the ill and grieving to sing them to sleep. With Gretchen Johanson on guitar, they sing songs like: “Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of God,” “Dona Nobis Pacem,” and “Day By Day” from Godspell. It’s a very simple ministry, two to ten, singing to people with special needs on their porches or outside their bedroom windows. Marymusic is the “sister” to Marthameals, the name coined when Rousseau was scheduling three groups to provide dinners for a cancer patient. On one food delivery, Rousseau says she realized, “The meal nourished the patient’s family but her need was food for the soul.” So Rousseau gathered singers from church and told them not to bring food but music … they sang to Dorothy Anderson after her husband, Gus, died. And to four-year-old Thor Knutzen, who’s on the heart transplant waiting list. A widower, Fred, who’s not a member of this 400-member congregation still talks about the parishioners who sang for his wife, Kai, who was then dying from cancer. She requested “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and later said, “I just had a real sense of peace sitting there.”[Julie Sevig, The Lutheran Magazine, “Porch Lullabies” (September 2003), p. 24.] Two sisters representing two aspects of the Christian life alert us to the task of balance as we remember “the one thing needful.” Amen. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
13) “You he should have consulted the firm before getting married.“ Theologian William Stringfellow tells the story of a friend who graduated at the same time as he did from Harvard Law School. This friend accepted a position with a well-known Wall Street firm. The classmate married the summer before he began at the firm. When he later reported to work, his employer told the new lawyer that he should have consulted the firm before getting married. However, they said, “Since he was married, it would be advisable for him and his wife to refrain from having any children for at least two or three years. Furthermore, for the sake of his advancement in the firm, he should and would want to devote all of his time both in the office and in his personal life to the service of the firm, and children might interfere with this.” [Quentin J. Schultze, Communicating for Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2000), p. 79] The firm wanted him to have no other god than his work. And there are many people today who are making that kind of commitment to their employer. A study by the Roper Organization sometime back showed that recent MBA graduates work at least 80 hours per week. There is nothing wrong with hard work, as long as it does not stand in the way of close relationships with other people and with God. Martha and Mary’s story in today’s Gospel teaches that there is a time for work by doing good to others and there is a time for prayer by talking to God and listening to Him. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
14) Flying Scot: In the movie, Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell, the “flying Scot” who was expected to run in and win the 100-meter dash in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, refused to run in the heats for that race because they were on Sunday afternoon, and so he was disqualified. His sister – they were children of missionaries to China, and they planned to return there – didn’t want him to run at all. But he said to her, “I believe God made me for a purpose; he also made me fast.” And so he ran in, and won, the 400-meter run later in the games. Liddell might be accused simply of living by a rigid set of rules and laws because he would not run on the Sabbath, but more than that, he had a relationship with the living Christ. In Christ he had discovered a purpose for his life, as the film suggests, for at the end of the movie a postscript told how he went to China as a missionary and died there at the end of World War II, and “All Scotland mourned for him.” He had found what Mary of Bethany must have discovered, a lasting relationship with the Christ that raises one’s life to higher levels of love and service. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
15) Losing the focus: John C. Maxwell tells about an Eastern Airlines jumbo jet that crashed in the Everglades of Florida some time back. The plane was the now-famous Flight 401, bound from New York to Miami with a heavy load of holiday passengers. As the plane approached the Miami airport for its landing, the light that indicates proper deployment of the landing gear failed to light. The plane flew in a large, looping circle over the swamps of the Everglades while the cockpit crew checked to see if the gear actually had not deployed, or if instead the bulb in the signal light was defective. When the flight engineer tried to remove the light bulb, it wouldn’t budge. The other members of the crew tried to help him. As they struggled with the bulb, no one noticed the aircraft was losing altitude, and the plane simply flew right into the swamp. Dozens of people were killed in the crash. While an experienced crew of high-priced pilots fiddled with a seventy-five-cent light bulb, the plane with its passengers flew right into the ground. [Developing the Leader Within You (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1993).] That happens sometimes. It happens in business, it happens in the home, it happens in our daily lives. We lose sight of what really matters. http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
16) “Mostly Martha” There is a pleasing illustration of Martha’s attitude in an excellent German film marketed in the US under the title Mostly Martha. The lead character—not accidentally named Martha—is a German cook obsessed with perfection, who has forgotten that food and eating are ultimately forms of communion with other persons, an expression of love and fellowship. In the course of the film—and through much pain—she learns to open herself to a communion of love with her young niece and an Italian chef who becomes her husband. (The Sacred Space). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
17) The Love Squad “Oh, no! Not company!” I groaned the moment the car rounded the corner and our house came into full view. Usually I’d be thrilled to see four cars lined up in our driveway, but after I spent a week-long vigil at the hospital with an ill child, my house was a colossal mess. Turning off the car engine, I dragged myself to the front door. ‘What are you doing home so soon?’ my friend Judie called from the kitchen. ‘We weren’t expecting you for another hour!’ She walked toward me and gave me a hug, then asked softly, ‘How are you doing?’ Was this my house? Was I dreaming? Everything looked so clean. Where did these flowers come from? Suddenly more voices, more hugs, Lorraine, smiling and wiping beads of perspiration from her forehead, came up from the family room where she had just finished ironing a mountain of clean clothes. Regina peeked into the kitchen, having finished vacuuming rugs and polishing and dusting furniture in every room in the house. Joan, still upstairs wrestling with the boy’s bunk-bed sheets, called down her ‘hello,’ having already brought order out of chaos in all four bedrooms. ‘When did you guys get here?’ was my last coherent sentence. ‘How come….how come… you did all this?’ I cried unashamedly, every ounce of resistant gone. I had spent the week praying through a health crisis, begging God for a sense of His presence at the hospital. Instead, He laid a mantle of order, Beauty and loving care into our home through these four “angels.” ‘You rest a while, Virelle,’ Lorraine said firmly. “Here’s your dinner for tonight-there are more meals in the freezer.’ ‘Don’t worry. We’re all praying,” my friends said. “God has everything under control.” After my friends left, I wandered from room to room, still sobbing from the enormity of their gift of time and work. In the living room I found a note under a vase filled with peonies. I was to have come home and found it as their only identity: ‘The Love Squad was here.’ And I knew that God had everything under control.” Today’s episode from the Gospel according to Luke tells us of the visit of Jesus to the home of Martha and her sister Mary, where, apparently, he would relax in the company of friends.
(Virelle Kidder from Decision Magazine; quoted by Fr. Botelho). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
18) Interruptions or…..? Once a man went to see a friend of his who was a professor at a great university. However, as they sat chatting in the professor’s office, they were continually interrupted by students, who came knocking at the door, seeking the professor’s advice about something or other. Each time the professor rose from his chair, went to the door, and dealt with the student’s request. Eventually the visitor asked the professor, ‘How do you manage to get any work done with so many interruptions?’ ‘At first I used to resent the interruptions to my work. But one day it suddenly dawned on me that the interruptions were my work,’ the professor replied. That professor could have locked himself away and devoted his time to his own private work. In that way he would no doubt have had a quieter life. But being the generous and unselfish person that he was, he couldn’t do that. Instead he made his work consist in being available to his students. It was no surprise that he was greatly loved by the students. And it was no coincidence that he was one of the happiest and most fulfilled professors on the campus. (Flor McCarthy in Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies; quoted by Fr. Botelho). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
19) Your Abba’s arms: Some time back, my daughter Jenna and I spent several days in the old city of Jerusalem. One afternoon, as we were exiting the Jaffa gate, we found ourselves behind an Orthodox Jewish family – a father and his three small girls. One of the daughters, perhaps four or five years of age, fell a few steps behind and couldn’t see her father. “Abba!” she called to him. He stopped and looked. Only then did he realize he was separated from his daughter. “Abba!” she called again. He spotted her and immediately extended his hand. She took it and I took mental notes as they continued. I wanted to see the actions of an abba. He held her hand tightly in his as they descended the ramp. When he stopped at a busy street, she stepped off the curb, so he pulled her back. When the signal changed, he led her and her sisters through the intersection. In the middle of the street, he reached down and swung her up into his arms and continued their journey. Isn’t that what we all need? An abba who will hear when we call? Who will take our hand when we’re weak? Who will guide us through the hectic intersections of life? Don’t we all need an abba who will swing us up into his arms and carry us home? We all need a father. -There’s a God in Heaven Who wants you to call Him your Abba. (Max Lucado from The Great House of our God; quoted by Fr. Botelho). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
20) Making Choices: The American Psychotherapist and writer, Thomas Moore, said: “There is no doubt that some people would spare themselves the expense and trouble of psycho-therapy simply by giving themselves a few minutes each day for quiet reflection. This simple act would provide what is missing in their lives – a period of non-doing that is essential nourishment for the soul.” Like Martha, we are very active in our daily lives, dutifully attending to a number of chores that need to be done. But like Mary, we need to give ourselves a break -space and time for quiet reflection, as we do each time we participate in the Eucharist. This is both necessary and important to provide what is essential for every human being – a period of non-doing that is essential nourishment for our souls. (J. Valladares in Your Words O Lord Are Spirit, and They Are Life; quoted by Fr. Botelho). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
21) The Promise Keeper: Martin Luther King Jr. shortly after assuming his role as community leader and activist started receiving phone calls threatening his life and family. One night a caller ordered him to leave town in three days or risk having his home firebombed. Unable to sleep, King went into the kitchen hoping to find some relief in a warm cup of coffee. He sat at his kitchen table wrestling with his present crisis and came face-to-face with the fact that he could lose his newborn daughter or wife at any moment. Looking within himself, King prayed, “Lord I’m down here trying to do what’s right. I think I’m right. I think the cause we represent is right. But I’m weak now. I’m faltering and I’m losing my courage.” At that moment King heard a voice saying, “Stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth and ‘Lo, I will be with you even till the end of the world.”‘ From then on, King was sustained by God’s promise to be with him. Today’s Gospel story speaks of Jesus’ visit to the house of Martha and Mary and the welcome he received in this home. (Prince Rainy Rivers in Text this week; quoted by Fr. Botelho). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
22) “I want to be a TV”: A Primary School teacher asked her pupils to write an essay on, “A wish you want from God?” At the end of the day, the teacher collected all the essays given by her pupils. She took them to her house, sat down and started marking while watching the TV. Whilst marking the essays, she saw a strange essay written by one of her pupils. That essay made her very emotional. Her husband came and sat beside her and saw her crying. The husband asked her, “What happened?” “What’s making you cry?” She answered, “Read this. It is one of my pupil’s essay. ”Oh, God, make me a Television. I want to live like the TV in my house. In my house, the TV is very valuable. All of my family members sit around it. They are very interested in it. When the TV is talking, my parents listen to it very happily. They don’t shout at the TV. They don’t quarrel with the TV. They don’t slap the TV. So I want to become a TV. The TV is the center of attraction in my house. I want to receive the same special care that the TV receives from my parents. Even when it is not working, the TV has a lot of value. When my dad and mom come home, they immediately sit in front of the TV, switch it on and spend hours watching it. The TV is stealing the time of my dad and my mom. If I become a TV, then they will spend their time with me. While watching the TV, my parents laugh a lot and they smile many times. But I want my parents to laugh and smile with me also. So please God make me a TV. And last but not the least, if I become a TV, surely, I can make my parents happy and entertain them. Lord I won’t ask you for anything more. I just want to live like a TV. Please turn me into a TV.” The husband completed reading the essay. He said “My God, poor kid! He feels lonely. He did not receive enough love and care from his parents. His parents are horrible.” The eyes of the primary School teacher filled with tears. She looked at her husband and said, “Our son wrote this essay.” — Today’s Gospel presents Martha, with the same desire of getting full, undivided attention from Jesus. (Fr. Nelson, WordPress.com). May our children never desire to be Whatsapp, Phones, Facebook, Twitter or TVs to get love and affection! http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
23) Don’t Forget the Best: There is an ancient Scottish legend that tells the story of a shepherd boy tending a few straggling sheep on the side of a mountain. One day as he cared for his sheep he saw at his feet a beautiful flower — one that was more beautiful than any he had ever seen in his life. He knelt down upon his knees and scooped the flower in his hands and held it close to his eyes, drinking in its beauty. As he held the flower close to his face, suddenly he heard a noise and looked up before him. There he saw a great stone mountain opening up right before his eyes. And as the sun began to shine on the inside of the mountain, he saw the sprinkling of the beautiful gems and precious metals that it contained. With the flower in his hands, he walked inside. Laying the flower down, he began to gather all the gold and silver and precious gems in his arms. Finally with all that his arms could carry, he turned and began to walk out of that great cavern, and suddenly a voice said to him, “Don’t forget the best.” Thinking that perhaps he had overlooked some choice piece of treasure, he turned around again and picked up additional pieces of priceless treasure. And with his arms literally overflowing with wealth, he turned to walk back out of the great mountainous vault. And again the voice said, “Don’t forget the best.” But by this time his arms were filled and he walked on outside, and all of a sudden, the precious metals and stones turned to dust. And he looked around in time to see the great Stone Mountain closing its doors again. A third time he heard the voice, and this time the voice said, “You forgot the best. For the beautiful flower is the key to the vault of the mountain.” In our Scripture passage we have someone who also forgot the best. Her name was Martha. (Adrian Dieleman, Hosts and Guest; quoted by Fr. Kayala). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
24) There Is Always a Load Limit: Dr. John Anderson tells about a cartoon that appeared in the New Yorker magazine. Approaching a small bridge plainly marked, “Load Limit 8 tons,” was a truck, also marked on its side, “8 tons.” When the 8-ton truck was about in the middle of the bridge with the 8-ton limit, a bluebird lighted on the top girder. At that point the bridge gave way and crashed with the truck into the river below, to the obvious surprise of the bluebird. The bridge was built as indicated for 8-tons; the truck weighed exactly that. The bridge could hold up under its load limit, but not under 8-tons and one bluebird. Of course, this story is wonderfully ridiculous. Most bridges could stand up under their load limit and several thousand bluebirds extra. But, to be sure, all bridges have a breaking point somewhere “that point at which the bluebird would be just much too much. But, friends, it really isn’t the bluebird that breaks it down. It is the fact that 8 tons are already present. We all have bluebird troubles, don’t we? We are all burdened by the facts of our lives which load us to the point of “load limit.” We let little things get the best of us, little bluebirds of nothingness, tiny bluebirds of no importance, but just the thing to bring us down. Every person has a limit and we would do well to watch for the warning signs of one bluebird too many. There is always a load limit. (Arthur E. Dean Windhorn, Sermons.com; quoted by Fr. Kayala). http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
25) “I made them for you!”: A story is told of a father who had a little daughter that he dearly loved. They were great friends – the father and the daughter – and were always together. But there seemed to come an estrangement on the child’s part. The father could not get her company as formerly. She seemed to shun him. If he wanted her to walk with him, she had something else to do. The father was grieved and could not understand what the trouble was. Then his birthday came and in the morning his daughter came to his room, her face radiant with love, and handed him a present. Opening the parcel, he found a pair of exquisitely worked slippers. The father said, “My child, it was very good of you to BUY me such lovely slippers.” “Oh, father,” she said, “I did not buy them. I MADE them for you! “Looking at her he said, “I think I understand now what long had been a mystery to me. Is this what you had been doing the last three months?” “Yes,” she said, “but how did you know how long I had been at work on them?” He said, “Because for three months I have missed your company and your love. I badly wanted you with me, but you have been too busy. These are beautiful slippers, but next time BUY your present and let me have YOU all those days. I would rather have my child herself than anything she could make for me.” (Quoted by Fr. Larka). http://frtonyshomilies.com/) L/19
“Scriptural Homilies” Cycle C (No. 39) by Fr. Tony: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit this website: By clicking on http://frtonyshomilies.com/ for missed or previous Cycle C homilies, 141 Year of Faith “Adult Faith Formation Lessons” (useful for RCIA classes too) & 197 “Question of the Week.” Contact me only at email@example.com. Visit http://www.vaticannews.va/en/church.html for the Vatican version of this homily and https://www.catholicsermons.com/homilies/sunday_homilies under CBCI or in the CBCI website https://cbci.in/SundayReflectionsNew.aspx?&id=cG2JDo4P6qU=&type=text .
Fr. Anthony Kadavil, Chaplain, Sacred Heart Residence of the Little Sisters of the Poor, 1655 McGill Ave, Mobile, AL 36604.