17 July 2022 – 16th Sunday (C)

17 July 2022 – 16th Sunday (C)

(1) Genesis 18:1-10

Welcoming the strangers, Abraham was really in the presence of God

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favour with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on-since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”

Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.”

Responsorial: Psalm 14:2-5

R./: The just will live in the presence of the Lord

Lord, who shall dwell on your holy mountain?
He who walks without fault;
he who acts with justice
and speaks the truth from his heart;
he who does not slander with his tongue. (R./)

He who does no wrong to his brother,
who casts no slur on his neighbour,
who holds the godless in disdain,
but honours those who fear the Lord. (R./)

He who keeps his pledge come what may;
who takes no interest on a loan
and accepts no bribes against the innocent.
Such a man will stand firm for ever. (R./)

(2) Colossians1:24-28

Paul suffers for his converts as part of his ministry of calling them to salvation

I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is he whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Gospel: Luke 10:38-42

The welcome offered by the sisters, Martha and Mary, in Bethany

Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”


Hospitable Household

Wouldn’t we be delighted if a whole raft of stories turned up about Martha, Mary and Lazarus; but today’s episode and the raising of Lazarus (John 11) are the only ones recorded by the Evangelists. However, these two stories let us see Jesus in an everyday setting among people that he loved and who clearly loved him. The parents of Martha and Mary were presumably dead, since we hear nothing about them. The two women were clearly very attached to the Lord and he treated them with respect and affection. This story is not teaching that one should not serve a meal to our guests. Jesus is saying rather that more important than feeding them is enjoying their company and loving them. We should never be so busy that we have no time for conversation.

Our Irish tradition emphasises hospitality, a tradition somewhat harder to practice in a busy urban setting, but one that we would do well to keep alive, and even revive to a higher level. We are more likely to encounter the grace of God when welcoming visitors to our home, than just by sitting watching television!

Listen to him

The Psalmist asks God, “What is man that you care for him, or mortal beings that you keep them in mind?” Some saintly people seem to have an exceptional grasp of God’s plan for the human race, and have shared that knowledge with the rest of us. So the Word of God came to Abraham, not as an abstract doctrine but as a conviction grasped by the heart. Abraham’s encounter with God was deeply personal. He was called the friend of God, and his welcome to God’s Messengers mirrored eastern nomadic hospitality.

Abraham is the iconic model of deep-rooted trust in God. Called to leave his own clan, he stopped worshipping their gods and set out for an unknown destination. In return God promised he would become the father of a great nation. Abraham trusted and followed this call, even when there seemed little hope that this promise would ever be fulfilled. When they had practically given up hope, he again hears that his wife will bear a son, and again he trusts in God’s word. Later still, when Isaac was born Abraham felt he ought to sacrifice this precious son. But he carried out this grim command, how could the promise of God ever come true? According to Genesis, later echoed by St Paul, Abraham’s trust in God never wavered, and in the end was vindicated. It was for this faith that he was justified in God’s sight, and this faith was passed on to Abraham’s children and to all believers, including ourselves.

Jesus had a special esteem for Mary, the sister of Martha, and enjoyed her vibrant relationship with him, her eager spirit of listening. While we feel sorry for Martha, being left to do the household work on her own, it’s clear that Jesus appreciated Mary’s listening spirit. Our attentiveness to him must not be eclipsed by our mundane daily bustling about. Then we have St Paul’s reflection about how the Word of God, hidden from all mankind for centuries, was received by those who eagerly listened to it. We need to make space for God in our lives, to listen for it at some time each day, and to pray the Holy Spirit to be our guide.

Martha and Mary

I love this conversation between Jesus and his friends (two sisters and their brother Lazarus) in the village of Bethany. While he was friendly with all of them, it is hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for Martha. It was her house after all, and she would naturally want to show it at its best. Her problem, as with over-anxious people in general, was that she saw only one right way to do things, and became annoyed when others followed a different course. What she does not see is that the best kind of welcome is when we forget ourselves and focus on what our visitor really needs.

Martha loved Jesus too, and it is clear that he treasured them both. Her mistake was in not realising how Jesus wished to be received. Her sister correctly sensed that when Jesus came to visit them on his way to Jerusalem, what he wanted from them was not food but conversation. So, while Martha made the greater effort at housekeeping, Mary knew better what he expected of her. Her contemplative intuition grasped instinctively the main reason for Jesus’ visit. He was there not to receive but to give, not to be served but to serve. He had something to say and they needed to listen to him.

This encounter suggests a theology of contemplation, how to receive the Lord’s visit. It starts from the basis that whoever our visitors may be, there is always something to be learned from them. The one who comes knocking on our door will have something to tell us, should be listened to and understood. After a frustrating debate with scribes and Pharisees, Jesus came to visit his friends, for peace and calm. He comes to talk to us in the quiet of the evening or the freshness of the morning, to share with us the Word of life. He comes not because he needs us but because we need him. We too can be distracted and “worry and fret about so many things.” We may, like Martha, miss the better part, the one thing necessary, which is to listen to the Word of Christ.

The world is made up of Marthas and Marys – doers and dreamers – and the former are much more numerous than the latter. The commercial society of today places a huge premium on achievement. It is tangible results that count. Production and sales targets are set for and only those who meet them are rewarded. Captains of industry insist that pay be related to production: “shape up or ship out.” And those who can’t or won’t are made redundant. That is, in a sense, Martha’s world. Mercifully, we still have our dreamers. And like Jesus, we should cherish such dreamers for the contribution they bring to our lives.

Who are the Marys our church today? Not all of them live in cloisters, though some still do, quietly worshipping on behalf of us all. Some live a busy life at work and as home-makers, but find time in their hearts for prayer and for going to church. Others work creatively in their writing rooms or studios, patiently building their dreams of a better world for future generations. It is the poets, painters, writers, philosophers and mystics, who like Mary, have chosen the better part.



  1. Kevin Walters says:

    Readings: 17 July 2022 – 16th Sunday (C)

    Prayer (Contemplation) comes before action nevertheless, they are intertwined.
    We see this in St Mother Teresa, who (I have read) instructed her sisters to leave those in their care, at set times of prayer, unattended. When confronted with this action, her words were, to the effect, that they, the patients, would be drawn into that contemplation (Prayer) also. What a wonderful example and teacher she was/is, as she gave them “the better part” also.

    Quote “Whether in the valley or on the mountain-top, we need the affirmation of God, for the God in the valley is the same God on the mountains.”

    So, ‘Find a clear space where you can hear what life is saying to you’.
    Who will buy, a bit of heaven?
    Gold and silver have their place
    But happiness is before your face
    Man’s spirit is a timeless thing
    The Father gives us music to make it sing
    Capturing things from long ago
    Memoirs of love and of woe
    Do you remember the buttercup or lamb in spring?
    The gentle hand that to school did bring
    Was there a friendly word given by Mum or Dad when you were sad?
    Did the Sun ever surprise sending sparkling visions before your eyes?
    Or the silvery Moon peep its head from cloud as you laid upon your bed
    As the wind blew your hair were birds singing in the air
    Standing by the roaring sea as it showed its majesty
    Did the stars seem brighter than the morning dew as they showed themselves to you?

    If to all of this you can say no, we have further yet to go,

    Do you remember the pain of birth?
    As you arrived here on earth
    As raindrops on a window pane is your life just the same
    Will not the rainbow show itself again?
    Does terror stalk you through the night?
    Did not the frost ever bite?
    Did not God give you sight?
    Are you frail and old?
    When winters are gone, does not spring unfold
    Have loved ones returned to clay
    Does not all flesh go that way?
    Do your prayers seem in vain?
    Where has virtue gone? Her lovers to sing her song
    Let nothing dark or evil in
    Will you not hold (Grasp) the Father’s hand and say I want to understand?
    If we do not seek, how can His love we repeat
    If you hide your frailty and sin
    You collude with evil and it will win
    ‘When sin is hidden it creates its own prison’
    The Christian heart can take no part
    The Holy Spirit will surprise,
    If in humility, from the light within we do not hide

    Quote “And then we may find that it’s as if we’ve been shuffling our way through a dense forest and then suddenly, we are in a calm, silent clearance where we can get a more reflective sense of who we are, of what’s really important, of who and what really matters.”

    As the Holy Spirit leads us into the fullness of life the, gateway to Heaven.

    Kevin your brother
    In Christ

  2. Thara Benedicta says:

    Readings: 17 July 2022 – 16th Sunday (C)

    Key Message:
    Choose what you are spending time on.

    Our Lord Jesus gives a workable solution for all the frustrations in today’s world.
    “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is a need for only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

    The words “worry” and “distracted by many things” aptly describe our condition of ourselves too.
    Are we worried about unnecessary stuff?
    Are we worried about the buffalo we do not have? Any ways God is not going to take care.

    Are we worried about our future?
    Are we busy getting frustrated to take care of many things to secure our future? Our Lord Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow”. Our names are engraved in the palm of “Our Father’s” hand. Do we know why He has engraved our names in the palm of His hand? So that our names will always be in front of Him. He will always remember us.
    Why do we work for more and more wealth and lose our health? Whatever God our Father wants to give, He will surely provide us without losing our health.

    Have we needs to be met?
    God always intends to bless us according to His riches. Not according to our goals. Our Lord Jesus said, “If a son asks for a fish, will his father give him a snake. If you being evil know how to give good stuff to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
    So, let us believe in Him to bless us with the best according to His will and in His time.

    Do we cry because of our problems?
    When our Lord Jesus saw Mary weeping (because of the death of her brother Lazarus), He couldn’t control His tears. Lord Jesus wept. When we have a close relationship with our Lord Jesus, when we weep, Jesus also weeps with us. As He raised Lazarus back to life, He will certainly resurrect us out of our problems.
    When we go to Jesus, our problems will go away!!
    Jesus may wait as He did for Lazarus, but He will surely come!!
    So let us not allow any worry or distraction to stop us from spending time with our Lord Jesus.

    Now let us meditate on “Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
    As our Jesus says, it is Mary’s choice to sit at the feet of our Lord Jesus. It did not come to her forcefully. Our Lord Jesus did not forcefully make her come and sit at His loving feet. He was blissfully happy that she was there sitting and listening to His graceful words. He was eagerly waiting for Martha also to enjoy the same. But since Martha’s heart was worried and distracted, she was not in listening mode. Her cup was already overflowing with worries and distractions. Even when she could hear God preaching in her own house, she could not listen to it. At that time also, she was frustrated with extravagant food preparation.
    There are many Marthas in this world. Though God is residing in their hearts, they are still unhappy. They are still not able to enjoy the peace and presence of God within them, because they are frustrated with many worries and are full of distractions. They are not able to see Jesus sitting inside their own hearts.
    Martha carefully took the better choice in spite of the invitation from her sister. Before complaining to Jesus, Martha would have certainly insisted Mary directly come and help her in the food preparation. But Mary would have listened to Jesus instead of Martha.
    How many times Jesus and worthless entertainment would have fought for our time?
    Sitting at the feet of Jesus will be more entertaining than sitting at the front of the TV.

    When our Jesus said, “Mary chose the better part”, what is the other one? Was it the cooking part? St. Antony also cooked out of obedience. He was always praising Our Jesus even while He was cooking. So He was both sitting at the feet of our Lord Jesus and also cooking. What happened? The devil got frightened of St. Antony.

    So what is the ‘NOT better’ part? It is doing unnecessary things. It would have eaten up the time set apart for the necessary things. It is overdoing things beyond the necessities.
    What will happen if our Lord Jesus questions similar to the way He had questioned Martha “Are all these really required?”
    Are we buying unnecessary things and putting financial pressure on ourselves?
    The more we buy, the more effort it will take to maintain what we have bought.

    Are you thinking “How can I give up doing something which may look extravagant now but may be handy in the future? This may eat up my time with God now, but will help me later”.
    Let us assume Martha has the same problem. She wants to focus on our Lord’s teaching sitting at His feet but also does not want to give up preparing extravagant meals for Jesus and His Apostles. Now she is discussing Jesus. Let us do a simple role-play.

    Martha: “O Jesus!! I want to sit and enjoy at your feet, just like my sis. But I do not know how I will give food to all?”
    Jesus: “What do you have with you?”
    Martha: “Food just enough for Lazarus, Mary, and me. Not enough for all here.”
    Jesus: “Please bring it to me.”
    Martha brings the food. Jesus blesses the food and asks them to share the food. All of them sit and eat the food together happily with Lord Jesus in Martha’s house. Enjoying both His glorious words and the good food. After everyone ate ‘stomach full’, Martha collects the remaining food and packs it for their next meal!!

    Like Mary can we sit at the feet of our Lord Jesus always? Spiritually – Yes.
    We can understand it also with the help of a testimony from a person – “I had the habit of taking my cell phone whenever I go to the restroom. I used to check my WhatsApp messages in those few minutes. Now I have made it my prayer time. I remember that Jesus is there and will keep saying something to Him. Whatever runs at the top of my mind I will tell Him. Also, the Holy Spirit will remind me to pray for someone who is in need. When I come out of the restroom, I will feel so much peace and calmness within me.”
    Many people have made their restroom their place of conversation with God, who is eagerly waiting for us to say some words to Him.

    Martha was frustrated but Mary was peaceful.
    Let us also choose the better part, just like Mary.

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