16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5
I know people who when they hear this gospel the question comes up so are like Martha or Mary? Are you a doer or are you one to sit by and observe?
I think we need to take a harder look at what Martha is doing and why. Martha is trying to be a good host. Jesus comes to the village and Martha is the one who welcomes him. In welcoming him, Martha seeks to provide a meal. Isn’t that a good thing? People need to eat, right?
However, when Martha comes to Jesus and tells him to tell Mary to help, Jesus says no. Martha probably was shocked by this. Martha was doing what was expected of her. Yet, Jesus says “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
Let’s back up a couple of thousand years and look at the first reading. The Lord appeared to Abraham as three men. Abraham goes to greet them and offers them water to bathe their feet and food to refresh themselves. He shows them good hospitality. Does the Lord scold him? No, in fact Abraham is then told Sarah will have a son that year.
Why the difference between Martha and Abraham? Honestly, I am not sure but I think we might consider why Martha and Abraham each offer a meal.
I would say that in both cases the offer of a meal was a good thing. Abraham showed great generosity to the three strangers. Was Martha acting out of generosity or was she “doing what was expected of her”?
When you invite people to your house, are you doing so because you like them and want to visit them or are you doing it to impress them by putting on a good show? Do you put on a spectacular meal but don’t get to visit with your guests much because you spend most of the time in the kitchen? I enjoy a good meal but when I go to someone’s house it is to spend time with them.
What about what we do as a parish? For instance, last week our Altar & Rosary Society with help from many parishioners hosted receptions after each Mass to welcome me. The spread of desserts was wonderful. (I think I managed to avoid gaining any weight). I am very thankful and appreciative of that. If it was just about the food, we could grab and go. It was great to have the food as we came together to get know each other as a community of believers.
When you read this week’s bulletin, you will see we are planning something new in September. You all know our parish is named after St. Michael the Archangel. The feast day is September 29th and this year we are going to do Mass at 5:30 p.m. with a dish-to-pass supper afterwards in the hall. So, we are having a party but the point of the party is to come together as a parish community. That’s why we will start with Mass and then dinner.
We all want to grow closer to Jesus. Part of this means being a community that supports one another, that welcomes one another. You see me out front before and after Mass greeting people. I’m not doing just because I am new. This is what I do all year long because I want people to feel welcome here.
We need to be a community of prayer so it is good when we can get to church a few minutes early to pray quietly. It is also good to take some time after Mass to get to know each other, to be a community united in faith. I love the small town feel I experience here of people knowing each other. Then we can pray for each other. That we can help each other. In doing so, we share love, love that is rooted in God.