16th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ Hostility to Hospitality
Jesus 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.” Luke 10:38-42
Hostility needs to transform into Hospitality. How often do we bring in a third party to solve our conflicts rather than working out our troubles with love, hospitality and understanding?
Martha had a valid complaint and concern for her sister Mary. Women of that time just didn’t do that kind of behavior. It is similar to how Saudi Arabia doesn’t allow women to drive a car even today. And yet some bold women have done just that. And they paid a terrible price. Remember the excuses men gave for women not being able to vote. Many paid a terrible price.
Mary was responding with her heart first. If she hears Jesus with her heart, she will later respond with her hands.
In our very turbulent and wounded world, the emotional response only heightens the anxiety. Martha was really anxious. Has anyone here been anxious about terror, violence, economics, relationships, teenagers or politics? Martha really wanted to sit and listen to Jesus, but she was programmed otherwise. It wasn’t Mary’s problem; it was Martha’s problem. Martha invited Jesus to her house (unusual for a woman) with joy. She believed she was going to be a great sacristan, Eucharistic Minister, altar server or lector or usher. But Jesus wanted to engage Martha’s mind and heart in the same way he connected with Mary, her sister. The Scriptures emphasize how Jesus loved these sisters very much.
Has this ever happened to you? Your generosity and hospitality turned to hostility? I know I have been caught. “Ron, Ron, you are anxious and upset about many things.” It is very hard not to get anxious these days. Psychologically, we know that if anxieties rise like in tragedies, conflict, atrocities or deadlines… thinking decreases dramatically and decisions are made with our emotions and reactivity.
I dunno. I wonder if Martha invited her sister Mary into her quiet space after Jesus left. “What did he say?” “How did you take it in?” “Did he like my matzo balls and leftover lamb?” If they had any conflict or hostility toward each other, it probably transformed into hospitality.
Jesus personally invites each of us to this Eucharistic celebration today. Some of us became the feet, hands, voice and heart of Jesus. His hospitality is outstanding, but his Word is divine! We welcome people through the penitential cleansing and baptism. We serve the Word as lectors. We are busy with live entertainment and musicians. We are stewards of our time, talent, treasures, AC, electricity and nutritious donuts. We experience the most incredible bread and wine transformed into Jesus’ Body, Blood and Soul. All are welcome. This is a 7 Star restaurant!
After the banquet we go home, but not alone.
The Mass truly never ends. We take it with us.
Martha did eventually listen to Jesus when death and tragedy struck her home. Martha begged Jesus to come and heal her brother who was quite ill. Jesus couldn’t make it to her home until her brother was four days in the tomb. This time it was Martha who first threw herself at the feet of Jesus. “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask of God will be granted.” Jesus replied, “Martha, your brother will rise.” She replied, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus then caught her attention again. He broke through her anxieties. “Martha, Beloved Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even if he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha’s tears dried up and I imagine she looked Jesus in the eyes. “Yes Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” John 11:17-27
Amazingly, Martha leaves Jesus there and calls her sister secretly saying, “The Teacher is here and asking for you.” These sisters truly love each other with no grudges. In all of the Scriptures, Martha is the only woman called twice by name. She joins, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, and Saul now Paul. And let us not forget the 7th call from the Son on his Cross. My God, My God…
Martha received Jesus in her home. She then took Jesus with her. Or did Jesus take her with him? When we leave today from this Eucharistic Banquet, we will welcome Jesus into the home of our hearts. Then we will hopefully discover that we are the ones invited to our own home where Jesus is reclining. We listen first like Mary and then we serve like Martha and Jesus. Remember that during the Last Supper, Jesus got up and washed his disciples’ feet. Let us do the same.
First love with your heart, then love with your hands.
This is what it means to love God, self and neighbor equally with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength and with all your mind.
And if we are going to live for all eternity, what stops us from living eternity today? All we need to do is welcome him into our homes. Don’t be anxious nor afraid. Jesus wants us to know that he will be with us always as reflected in this song:
You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.
Be not afraid. I go before you always.
Come follow me, and I will give you rest.
If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow’r of hell and death is at your side, know that
I am with you through it all.
Song by John Michael Talbot
Let us pray for the people throughout the world subjected to terror.
People in places like Africa have been suffering for years. They too are neighbors.
Let us respond to terrorism with love and non-violence. Reactivity only leads to reactivity.