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Contents: Volume 2 - Sixteenth Sunday - C
July 17, 2022

 

  The

16th

SUNDAY

 (C)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Dennis Keller

3. -- Brian Gleeson CP

4. --

5. --(Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sun. 16C 2022

 

Our Gospel reading this Sunday highlights a personal discernment question.   Martha welcomes Jesus into her home with great hospitality while Mary sits at Jesus's feet soaking up his every word.  Jesus tells Martha that Mary "has chosen the better part".

 

Well, ironically here I am, juggling two unexpected new commitments while sitting with my suddenly swollen foot propped up with ice.  I am trying to discern then balance what I can do, what I should do, what I want to do... and what I REALLY want to do! Maybe it is because I lived so long in Atlanta where all roads (even perhaps those to heaven and hell) seem to cross but everything in my household streams by me, like it or not, want it or not, needed or not.  What I usually do is not technically "hospitality", but in a way, it prepares for the happenings of our family activities.  For me, being temporarily immobile is both a terrible frustration and a needed introspection.

 

Listening to Jesus is by far the "best" activity ever. Hospitality and work, shown by Abraham and Sarah to strangers in our first reading, are also praised and rewarded.  We know that all of these things are necessary for a balanced spiritual life.

 

The quiet and reflection of prayer and Scripture/listening to Jesus often decrease when life gets really complicated.   They also can fade gradually when life just unfolds.  I think that our readings today are a good reminder that introspection of our time management should be a more regular occurrence.  You know yourself whether that means you actually need to put it on a calendar or just let the rhythm of your life dictate it.  In either case, I can attest to the fact that the respite it provides is refreshing!

 

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Sixteenth Sunday of Ordered Time July 17 2022

Genesis 18:1-10; Responsorial Psalm 15;Colossians 1:24-28; Gospel Acclamation Luke 8:15; Luke 10:38-42

 

This Sunday’s reading from Genesis and from Luke’s gospel have a common threat of hospitality. Abraham sees the Lord and two others passing by his tent and invites them to wash their feet, rest, have some food, and conversation. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus on his final journey to Jerusalem stops by a house for some rest, some food, and some conversation. There is that in common. Both stories begin with a stopping off on a way somewhere. The Abraham story has these three, obviously messengers form God with the Lord, on their way to Sodom for its destruction. In Luke’s gospel Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem where certain death, a cruel and shameful death awaits him because of his witness to God’s revelation. In the Abraham story, Abraham’s wife is directed by Abraham to bake some rolls – well an awfully lot of rolls as the amount of fine wheat flour is about sixty pounds. Abraham goes out and selects a steer from his herd and hands it over to a servant to slaughter and to prepare for a meal. A steer would be thought to render down into several hundred pounds of consumable meat. So, there is an abundance of food to fulfill Abraham’s cultural obligation of hospitality. In Luke’s gospel, Martha is the sole preparer of food. It seems she was planning and working on what we might consider to be a seven course meal for Jesus. She complains to Jesus that her sister has found a seat at his feet as he expounds his message of God’s love and compassion and the solidarity of humanity. That is all wrong from a couple of perspectives. First there is no male head of the household directing hospitality. It’s a woman, Martha, who is in charge. Secondly, Mary has taken a seat at the feet of Jesus. This was culturally unlikely as such a position was always reserved for men. In the end of the Abraham story, as a reward for wonderful hospitality, the Lord promises Abraham and Sara listening from inside the tent that when he, the Lord passes by the next time, Abraham will have a son. In the tent Sara laughs since she is well past child bearing age. When the promised son arrives, they call him Isaac which means “she laughed.” What a name for a child! In Luke’s gospel the story doesn’t have a reward for hospitality. That story in Luke’s gospel is a continuation of the teaching of Jesus about discipleship. By the way, only Luke has this story. The end of that story has Jesus telling Martha to step back from grandiose ideas for a huge meal. Just one thing, maybe a couple of all beef hot dogs would be enough. She worked herself up into a tizzy when all that Jesus required and wanted was something to satisfy his hunger. If Martha had thought about something simple, she would have had time to join Mary at the feet of Jesus. In that way both women would have had a sharing in the “better part.”

 

Jesus is teaching, through Luke’s gospel, two messages. The obvious one is to keep hospitality simple. Look to the need of those being served and satisfy what the need is. Know who you are serving and serve their needs, not your ideas of what would be magnificent. In that way we serve the persons in need and not our ego. The second lesson is one we Christians continually struggle to achieve. We note quickly there is only Jesus as a male presence in Luke’s story. If disciples were present they are ignored as non-essential to this story. Martha and Mary are given the status so often reserved to males in Jewish culture. Martha’s service is identified as that of a deacon. The verb in Greek for service to others is diakoneo which is translated in the noun form as deacon. In the time of Luke’s writing of his gospel, there was apparently some discussion in the community about the role of women. This story would have been understood as emphasizing the equality of women in the functioning of the Christian community, the church, the assembly of those called together.

 

We can’t overlook the situation of Jesus. Even as he prepares himself for the triumphal entry into Jerusalem as its King of peace into the City of Peace, he is facing the testing of his commitment to the Will of God for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of the World will fight with all the tools at its disposal to stop that Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is a threat to the way the world lives.

 

In all the stories of the Hebrew Scriptures, a constant story line is how the nation(s) fell into idolatry. Whenever that happens, corruption, failure of social, economic, and religious structures follows idolatry. Modern history continues this line for when idolatry happens corruption follows with great speed. When we make household gods of work, of wealth, of power, of influence, of legalized corruption we inevitable get off track and individuals and the nation suffers.

 

Jesus is headed to Jerusalem to confirm by his dying and rising the Will of the Father that all humanity be saved from their folly, greed, and idolatry. When truth is slain, the future of the nation and the people hangs in the balance. Paul, in the letter to the Colossians read this Sunday, makes a point we must take to heart. The way of the Gospel, the Kingdom of God is not a cake-walk. Just as Jesus suffered, endured betrayal of friends, experienced intense pain both in Gethsemane and on Calvary and so brought about the inauguration of the Kingdom of God, so also in our living we’ll experience suffering. Our suffering adds to the suffering of Jesus. Paul says that our suffering is a filling up of what is lacking in the sufferings of Jesus. That suffering is on behalf of the Body of Jesus, that Body which is the Church. Paul in this short passage reminds us yet again that we are members of the Body of Christ. We are made so by our Baptism and nourished as members of that Body and made more perfectly one when we receive the Eucharist.

 

These two simple stories of hospitality are packed with much material for us to think about. Nourishment for the journey is a necessity. And that nourishment comes to us in the assembly – in the form of Word and Eucharist.

 

We are to serve our communities but in so doing we must consider their need and not our egos. If we go big for the sake of praise instead of meeting the need of the community, who are we serving?

 

When it comes to the members of our community we should take to heart Paul’s admonition. “Now there is neither Jew or Gentile, freed or slave, woman or man.” We must learn to respect the dignity of others as our equals no matter the social, economic, immigrant, color, language – well you all know the drill. We are all in the image and likeness of God. That is the source of our dignity and worth.

 

Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com 

 

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TWO KINDS OF HOSPITALITY: 16TH SUNDAY C

Genesis 18:1-10a; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke 10:38-42

 

'Martha, Martha,' Jesus says, 'you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one’ (Luke 10:11)

 

The most important thing in life is surely our relationships. It seems that women are more likely to accept that truth than men. Certainly, relationships, and more specifically friendships, counted a great deal with Jesus. In today's charming story from the pen of Luke, we hear that on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus drops in on his ever-loving friends, the two sisters Martha and Mary.

 

In the desert storms of his life right now, their home, their warmth, and hospitality are a kind of oasis. Think of where Jesus is heading when this incident occurs. He's on his way to Jerusalem, and most likely, on his way to be murdered there. Presumably, his whole personality is convulsed with the battle going on inside him to accept that this is very likely to happen, and to accept that somehow it serves God's plan for the better world which is the kingdom of God. With the prospect of the cross before him and the terrible tension and struggle to accept it, what he wants most of all right now is an oasis of rest and relaxation, and calm, quiet conversation.

 

Martha is a good, kind, and generous woman. But here is one of the problems of life. So often we want to be kind to people in our way, by giving them what we assume they want. But when we discover that they have other ideas and put us off, we may take offence, and complain that our love and generosity are not appreciated. This is to forget that being truly kind to another is to become aware of what she or he truly needs, or needs more than anything else.

 

This is where Martha makes a mistake. She sets out to be kind to Jesus, but it has to be her way of being kind. She fails to see into the heart of Jesus to discover that what he wants and needs right now is not a lot of hustle and bustle, not the clanging of pots and pans, not the hissing of a kettle or the crackling of a fire, not heaps and heaps of food, and certainly not a lot of fussing and fretting and fuming. What he wants more than anything else right now is to kick off his sandals, sit down and relax, and talk and talk to friends who will take the time to listen. Mary, with a more sensitive antenna than her sister in the kitchen, picks this up, sits at his feet, and listens carefully. So, when Martha gets mad and interrupts the flow of conversation, she cops a bit of a mouthful from Jesus, including his special words of praise for her sister's choice.

 

Alice Camille has brought the Martha and Mary story up-to-date. She speaks from her own experience when she writes: -

 

I have often been a guest in Martha's home. I visit … someone whom I have longed to see, and am treated with great kindness and attention to my every need. The best china and the nicest desserts come out, and I never see the bottom of my coffee cup, for it is vigilantly refilled. Yet all the while, enjoying every good thing that comes to me, I am longing for my friend to sit down. After all, I have come to be with her, not her dishes.

 

I have also been to Mary's house. The moment I come in, she grabs me by the arm and we sit down. We talk, laugh, the hours go by and maybe I am hungry, or I have to cough before a glass of water is offered. The room gets cold and no one closes a window or stirs up the fire. I may be uncomfortable at Mary's house, but we have a darn good visit.

 

Alice Camille goes on to comment: -

It is best, of course, not to have to choose. Martha's hospitality was welcome and good. Mary might have been more considerate of her sister, sharing the chores and the chance to be with Jesus. But if the choice has to be made, presence is always the better part. The relationship will keep without the cookies, but not without heart speaking to heart.

 

There's a message in such real-life stories for us, whether we are women or men. Sustaining relationships in general and friendships, in particular, requires sensitivity to what the other wants, and what the other needs, more than anything else. With our fellow human beings, there's a time for action, and a time for reflection. There's a time for doing and a time for being. There's a time for talking and a time for listening. There's a time for noise, and a time for silence. There's a time for helping, but not for imposing.

 

With our God, there is a time for doing. Like the Good Samaritan did in our gospel story last Sunday! And there's a time too for listening to God's word - thinking, reflecting, and praying about it - just as we are doing this Sunday and every Sunday at our Eucharist.  A time, therefore, to be just like Mary in Luke's beautiful story of the two sisters with their best friend, Jesus!

 

So, during our personal and shared prayer today we might ask ourselves: -

 

Are we more like Martha or Mary in our relationships and friendships with others? Are we good at giving, but poor at receiving? Where do we put most of our energies? What do we overlook or neglect? Do we make time to listen and reflect? How do we share our presence with those who are important to us? Where do we welcome Jesus as our guest into our lives? Do we listen to him and let him guide us? Or are we simply too busy or distracted to hear what he wants to say to us?

 

To the extent that we need to do better in any of these areas, we might also pray with great conviction that powerful prayer we say each time we welcome Jesus as our best friend, in Holy Communion: 'Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.'

 

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net. Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

 

-- Fr. John Boll, OP

 


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