Text of Homilies > 2010 Homilies
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle C - July 18 10 – HOMILY
Let me ask you a question. It’s a simple question – and one where even though each of you will have a different answer, you will all be correct.
Here it is: Why – in the world – are you here? I don’t just mean alive, I mean, why are you right here, in church, right now? It’s a beautiful weekend, and yet each of you have chosen to spend an hour or so in church, not including the time it took for you to get here and back to where ever you are going. So, why would you do that?
As I thought about the various answers you might have, I considered that some of you came to pray; others came so they won’t go to hell; still others, because some else dragged you here. Finally, my guess is that there is a group that started giving that extra $5 Fr Leon asked for and want to get your money’s worth!
Regardless of your reason, the foundation of your decision to be here is Jesus Christ. If not for Jesus, none of us would be here. In fact, let’s face it, ‘here’ wouldn’t be here.
So, what do you know about this Jesus fella. Reflect for a moment what you know about Him – who He is, what He did and said, why He came. What do you know about this person Jesus, who has so much influence over your life that even 2,000 years after His life and death, He is still affecting your decisions?
Let me ask the question a different way. How many of you felt sorry for Martha in today’s Gospel and somewhat surprised at Jesus’ reaction to her request to have her sister help her with the duties of hospitality? And yet, His actions are what we might characterize as ‘Classic Jesus’.
We hear Martha complaining to Jesus that her sister is sitting listening to Him, rather than helping with the chores of preparing the meal. “Make her help me!”, she implores Jesus. After all, why should Martha do all the work, while Mary gets to sit back and enjoy Jesus’ company. How many of us have complained about the very same thing. For instance, when I was growing up, my brother Gregory consistently ‘disappeared’ when it was time to do the dishes and magically re-appeared when it was time to go outside and play. How many of you here are typically Martha’s? How many are Mary’s?
In fact, if we look at the Mass we are at today, who are the Martha’s? Well, Father, myself, the choir, the altar servers, the ushers, the ushers, the Eucharist Ministers. And who are the Mary’s – well those of you who are not serving in some ministry at Mass, are the Mary’s.
You’re all sitting back, listening to music and the readings, and later you will come up fully expecting to be fed. And yet according to Jesus, you have taken the better part. What does He mean?
Simply this: that in order to do the Will of God we must first listen. Martha, for all her good intentions, was not listening. She thinks she already knows what to do. Mary, on the other hand, is listening – to the wisdom, to insight, to the directions for how to live her life.
Is there a time for action? You bet! But we must first listen. And how does Mary listen? Scripture tells us she sits at Jesus’ feet. That is, in humility.
And what of Martha. Jesus tells her that she is anxious and worried about many things. This is what happens when we decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong; what we should do and how we should act – without considering what we are called to do; what God is asking of us.
We live in a time of great anxiety and worry – terrorism, the economy, retirement, etc. Many demands and little control leads to much stress. In many ways, our society has gone off and decided what is right and wrong, what is good and bad, who should live and who should die. And, if we listen to our Faith, we can only conclude that in many ways, we got it wrong.
It is here that we return to my opening question: Why are you here? If Jesus is the reason, do you realize that His message and His mission were all about rewriting the rulebook for society? “Love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you”; “go the extra mile, turn the other cheek”; “When you pray, pray thus: Our Father”; and of course… “This is My Body, This is My Blood.”
Jesus’ mission and ministry were about changing the way we look at God, at each other, at life itself. He wants us to challenge how we think, act and decide. These Gospel stories are not confusing when we understand that Jesus showed us the Father by what He did and by what He said. He pulled back the veil between Heaven and Earth and allowed us to peak into life beyond this world. And He left us instructions on how to follow Him.
The truth is, those of us who serve at Mass are not Martha’s, for we have listened to the call and responded. We too could have been somewhere else right now, but we have done our best to respond to the call and the will of God to be of service to His Church.
We all make up the Body of Christ, the Church. Our strength lies not in our own wisdom, but in our ability to listen, learn and respond to the God who loves us beyond all measure.
Where you go and what you do is your response to God’s call, and in the end, this is the reason why each of us is here.