Saturday, June 29, 2013

16th Sunday in OT (C) - Lessons from Martha and Mary

Luke 10: 38-42
July 21, 2013

GOSPEL READING: Martha and Mary

As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

REFLECTION: Lessons from Martha and Mary

To each his own,” as they say. Under normal conditions, we move to accomplish a particular task or set of goals by directing our thoughts, words and actions to what we deem important and dear to us. But there are other factors to consider, of course, like the object of our pursuit, the capacity and strength with which we are able to carry on the task and the impact it can have with others. But notwithstanding, we do the things we do because we want to matter and make a difference.

In our Gospel reading today, we have a concrete example of such. Jesus, Martha and Mary acted - on their own accord – to show how it is to pursue their object of attention and thus, be steadfast on what they deem valuable and worthwhile.

Jesus’ gesture of dropping by at his friends’ home highlights the value of visitation. He meant to pay them a visit because they are His friends. He wanted to spend time with them, talk, laugh, dine and most surely, instruct and share with them His experiences especially as He boldly proclaims the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Martha exemplifies, and yes, got lost in the pettiness of preparation. In her joy of making Jesus feel welcome and comfortable, she prepares the meal and has gone busy making an effort to make the guest feel-at-home.

Mary, for her part, draws us to an example of an eager listener. She has chosen to stay at the foot of Jesus, keeping still and carefully listening to Him, oblivious to what her sister is preparing.

With a scenario like this, we can thus be drawn to the fact that, each of them made an intent to validate each other’s presence and delight in it. The words of Jesus on Mary that she has chosen the better part is accordingly sensible, no less. But Martha, in all her sincere effort, could just as well have done what she knows best – to accept a guest and show Jesus her exceptional hospitality and brand of service.

We all want to make a difference. We all have our peculiar recourse in handling matters at hand. In some instances, we can see through our labors without many perturbances. In some cases, people may see them as utterly useless and perhaps indicative of our own petty predicaments.

Except for sin, we cannot and should not stop in doing what we do best, especially when our intent is to morally invest in some company of a dear guest, or someone who can bring us closer to the holiest of the holies. Should there be a chance to visit, either a friend or a foe (as we assume a reconciliatory mode), we do what we have to do before it is too late. Should there be a moment to prepare, we strive to do it for a noble purpose and not because we want to boast. Whoever said the words “by failing to prepare, we are preparing to fail” can serve to guide us in prior undertakings. Should we have the chance to become an eager listener – we do so and then act critically on what we have heard to transform and be transformed for the better, if not, for the best.

We are responsible for all our actions. Let us learn from the value of visiting, pettiness of preparation and eagerness to listen. Let this pericope in the Gospel of Jesus serve the purpose for which it has been proclaimed.


FR. RIC-ZEUS E. ANGOBUNG is a priest of the Diocese of Ilagan. He is a professed member of the  Dominican Clerical Fraternity of the Philippines.


Ordinary Time, Cycle C, Domfrat, Martha and Mary, Friendship, Listening

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