Homily for Monday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: FAITH IN LOVE , LOVE IN SERVICE!
By: Fr Ben Agbo
Homily for Monday July 29 2019
Feast of St Martha
1Jn 4 :7 – 16, Jn 11 :19 – 27.
‘Our love must not just be mere words but something active and genuine… Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… Whoever says that he loves God and fails to love his brother has not known God because God is love… No one has ever seen God but as long as we love one another God remains in us’. These are the beautiful and appealing words from the letter of John, the beloved apostle of Christ. Love that is not expressed is love that is suppressed. And any love that is suppressed is not salutary.
According to Vima Dasan, ‘A Christian is expected to be a mind through which Christ thinks ; a voice through which Christ speaks ; a heart through which Christ loves ; a hand through which Christ helps’. But what do we find today? A world full of Christians without love ; schools full of Christians without discipline, offices full of Christians without service, hostels full of Christians yet their toilets are smelling . And do you know what? Nobody helps anybody because everybody is waiting for somebody to help do the service.
As we reflect on St Martha today we see 3 dimensions of practical love epitomized in the 3 passages where the scriptures mention her ;
1. Love expressed in service ; When Jesus visited her family, she was engrossed in domestic service attending to the details of hospitality even to a point of fault. I say that because when she complained about her sister Mary’s aloofness to duty, Jesus corrects her weakness of over activism by saying that Mary has chosen a better part. From that moment she learnt the virtue of contemplative activism. She teaches us how not to lose focus on the spiritual dimension of our work. Lk 10 :38 – 42.
2. Love expressed through complaint ; Our feelings of depression and disappointment from loved ones are better expressed than suppressed. And it is best when we lovingly push it across to the loved one than gossiping behind him. Martha was not happy with Jesus in today’s gospel for late response to her sick call before her brother Lazarus died. But through voicing out her feelings Jesus sharpens her faith in the resurrection. Jn 11 :19 – 27.
3. Love expressed in condensed faith ; The last time the scriptures mentioned her was at the dramatic anointing of Jesus’ feet at Bethany by Mary. Martha simply did the serving. No complaints. It was a contemplative service this time around – a service that showcases her faith. However, in this passage, Mary her sister is converted also to the sacramental service of the anointing of Jesus’ feet – a role that was so significant in the theology of the resurrection story. Her kind of faith was more practical than theoretical. When she complained about the Lord’s lateness to their sick call, she still added : ‘but I know that, even now, whatever you ask God, he will grant you’. Her final statement was as incisive as that of Peter : ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who has to come into this world’. Her faith was simply expressed through her love.
I know a woman in my diocese whose charisms of service fits so well into the Martha character. She so understands the functionality of service in the house of God and especially towards men of God that she can sacrifice everything she has to make priests happy. When love is isolated from faith, christian spirituality becomes ridiculous. Let’s find time to express our faith in love and our love in service because charity covers a multitude of sins, 1Pet 4 :8. May God bless you today!
-Fr Ben Agbo