16th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 21, 2013)

Christ the Teacher

This week’s Readings

Sunday’s Gospel of Martha and Mary follows right after the story of the Good Samaritan, which we heard last weekend. This is not an accident; Luke put his Gospel together very carefully. He intends Martha and Mary to be a contrast to the Good Samaritan, so that there is a balance in our following of Christ.

The story about the Samaritan could lead us to think that only if we are doing things are we loving God. Martha was a doer to the point of being a fusspot. Martha, we are told, was “burdened with much serving.” Serving is something that Jesus himself did constantly and He urged his followers to do the same. But it should not be a burden. Because Mary seemed to be doing nothing, Martha saw her as idling and even selfish. Martha must have been somewhat surprised when Jesus said that Mary had “chosen the better part” which would “not be taken from her.”

What was that better part? Was Mary just sitting at the feet of Jesus and doing nothing? No. We are told that she was “listening to Him speak.” Listening to his message is something Jesus tells His disciples and the crowd they need to be doing all the time. If we do not spend time listening to Him, how can we know that our activity is properly directed? It is easy for us Christians to be very busy, but are we busy about the right things?

If I find myself saying that I’m not able to give some time to prayer or contemplation each day, then there is a serious imbalance in my priorities and in my understanding of what it means to love and serve my God.

This story blends nicely with the parable of the Good Samaritan. Taken together they express what should be the essence of Christian living – action for others that is guided by what we learn in prayer and reflection.

Much love … many prayers!

herb yost reflections

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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