16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5 (1a)
July 21, 2019
The words we hear from Paul to the Colossians might seem strange to us. First, he says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings.” Most people do everything they can to get rid of sufferings. We might ask why anyone would “rejoice” in sufferings.
Then Paul goes on to say that he makes up for “what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ.” The first thought here might be how could anything be lacking in Christ (after all He is Son of God) and even if there is, how could any human being, let alone me make up for it.
We think of “suffering” as something bad, pure and simple. When we face suffering, the first thing we can and should do is to pray that we be set free from the suffering if possible. If we must suffer, we pray that God walks with us through the suffering and that we recognize there can be value in suffering. Think of Jesus’ suffering in his Passion. If He did not suffer for our sins, we would not be forgiven. Pray that good comes from whatever sufferings you face.
As to what is lacking in Christ, nothing is lacking in the action of Jesus. What more could HE do? I emphasis “He do” because the one thing He couldn’t do is what we must do, accept the afflictions we must face, surrendering ourselves to our Father’s will. Jesus took the sufferings for our sins upon himself but we need to surrender ourselves to God. We have free will. We must make the choice.
When we accept suffering in faith, we witness to our faith in God’s Will. We are to do “justice” and “think in truth.”
Here I turn to the story of Martha and Mary. Martha is doing what she thinks best. She is focused on offering hospitality for her guest. She is doing what is expected of her in that culture. Mary chooses to sit and listen to Jesus.
Hearing this passage, people will ask if you are like Martha or Mary. The reality is we need to do both at different times in our lives. There are times we are called to “do” and there are times we are called to “listen” in prayer. The prayer can be at Mass, listening to God’s word and strengthened by the Eucharist. It can be during Adoration, when we sit before Jesus on the altar to pray. It can be at home or anywhere we pray. The Lord appears to us in many places.
Again, Mass is one of the places we come to find strength from God. At the end of Mass comes the dismissal. It is not simply an ending. The priest does not say, “Mass is over. You can go now.”
No, it is sending forth, a call to go out and live as God calls us to life, to give our whole lives to God.
We come to Mass to give praise to God. We also come, as we prayed in the opening prayer, to be “made fervent in hope, faith, and charity.” In all that we celebrate in Mass, we are “imbued with heavenly mysteries to pass from former ways to newness of life” (prayer after Communion).