HOMILY FOR THE 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: ONE THING IS STILL NEEDED
BY: Fr Livinus C. Igbodekwe
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 17 2022
While still a seminarian, I came later to know that passing any examination depended on how much you know what the individual lecturers needed. Really, their needs were different. There’s this particular lecturer that always reminded us before exam begins, thus: “If you summarise for me, I summarise your mark.” This would make us write pages and pages in order to stand a chance of passing his paper. However, another lecturer would say, “Don’t try to lecture me, I am your teacher, remember. If you try to impress me by writing volumes, you will fail.” This guidance would make me reduce my writing and even to squeeze the letters against the margins, so as not to exceed two pages. And I did pass because I understood what was needed.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus points out what is needed within the context of the hospitality he receives from Mary and Martha. One house but different aspects of hospitality. What each one offers Jesus depends on how much she understands his need at that point in time. The Will of God for a season or time doesn’t depend on what I think or feel. It must coincide with what God wants. And the blessing comes when we align with His perfect will.
How Do We Really Know What He Needs? That’s the question. We can answer this by turning to the story of Abraham’s hospitality in the 1st Reading.
How did Abraham know what to do as he sees the three men walking past, while he rests under the tree at Mamre during the hottest period of the day? He sees, he listens and he acts. Yes. This process is at the basis of every good act we perform. His eyes communicates with his heart and his heart moves him to action. Some may prefer to call it instinct. But not all instincts are good instincts. He is moved by his human spirit which is inclined to love, concern, charity and kindness. Most times, we stifle this voice within our spirit, urging us to do some good to people. Abraham didn’t do this act of kindness because he had a dream the previous night that God will be passing by that day. He has continually lived in kindness. Then, on that particular day, he hosts angels without knowing. This is a great lesson for us which encourages us to continue in well doing. We assume responsibility for what we see. That is the only way to charity. Abraham sees their looks, and discerned what they may need. And by that, he gets a place in God’s heart, that the promise is brought closer to a year time. He does the one thing that is needed.
What About Martha And Mary?
These women of Bethany, together with Lazarus, are Jesus’ friends. They may have invited Jesus for a treat, or Jesus may have visited on His own accord. Martha may have been the one who answers the door. The sight of Jesus agitates her. It worries her that nothing is ready. What a concern! She offers Jesus a sit and dashes to the kitchen to light the fire and peel some stuff to make Jesus a quick meal. “He must be very hungry,” she thinks.
Mary, hearing the creaking of the door, comes out to see who the visitor is. And Lo and behold, it is Rabbi. She greets him with utmost humility, and takes a place at His feet, as a disciple sits at the feet of the teacher (cf Acts 22:3). She starts asking Him questions regarding some of His sermons, and Jesus finds pleasure to teach her. Jesus, at least has a companion who has rescued him from the loneliness. At some point, Mary giggles and chuckles too loud that Martha overhears her. She becomes troubled by that. She comes out to ask Jesus whether He is not worried that she is working hard to get him entertained while her sister is lazily sitting at His feet being entertained. Sometimes we feel like Martha that Jesus needs to be entertained without knowing that He is the one Who entertains us.
Mary Has Chosen the Better Part: Jesus’ answer must have shocked Martha as well as instructed her. She now knows that the thing Jesus needs in the moment is not the “many things” that she is doing but the “one” thing that Mary is doing. Just like Abraham Martha should have seen a Jesus who is in need of companionship. Had see seen well, she may have known better. Mary meets a Jesus who is lonely. She sits and opens a conversation. It is only when we have listened that we can know what we can do for God.