Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Service and Listening
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday July 21 2019
Service is part of the defining identity of the Christian life. Christ clearly defined Himself as an obedient Servant Who came to execute the will of the Father. Hence, every follower of Christ must necessarily have the disposition to serve and must concretely live it out. To truly serve, one must also attentively listen. In listening, we are edified and renewed, and informed about the content and modalities of Christian service. In listening, we establish the most intimate and cordial relationship with He Who called us to serve. May God grant us the grace and disposition to listen and to render Him informed service; Amen.
The Gospel Reading of today (Luke 10:38-42) presents us the narrative of Jesus’s visit to the house of two sisters Mary and Martha. Whereas Martha occupied herself with serving and traditionally hosting their guest, Mary “sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to Him speaking.” One striking information given about Martha is that she “was distracted with all the serving.” It is very surprising that service can become a huge distraction for a servant that he or she loses sight of the goal of his or her service. This is not alien also to the Christian vocation to service! There are moments when we get carried away by the call of duty that we lose sight of the duty to listen; breeding a certain form of activism, devoid of dept and disconnected from the very fount of service. The truth is that every class or group of the faithful is exposed to this danger. Martha must have thought she had given her best! She must have thought it right to make Jesus feel at home with the best of dishes! However, the disappointment from all of these good wishes of hers was the fact that she was distracted. To be distracted means to lose sight of one’s proper focus and inability to concentrate. Nothing deprives service of its proper meaning and fruitfulness than distraction. Hence, in the encounter with Mary and Martha, Jesus teaches us the essential relationship between service and listening.
This relationship between service and listening is seen in the attitude of Abraham, our father in the faith, when the Lord appeared to him in the form of three men in the First Reading of today (Gen 18:1-10). On the one hand, Abraham, like Martha, made sure that his guests were properly taken care of; “let me fetch a little bread and you shall refresh yourselves before going further.” Unlike Martha, however, he was never distracted. On the other hand, Abraham, like Mary, “remained standing near them under the tree.” In the positions of Abraham in the First Reading and Mary in the Gospel Reading, we see the two positions of sitting and standing with which we listen to the Word of God during liturgical celebrations. A servant that attentively listens to his or her master is always on the right track of action. This is also very true of the Christian vocation of service. A Christian that is not attentive to Christ, a Christian that does not listen to Christ can never be a successful servant in which ever state of life or vocation he or she finds himself or herself. In his hospitality as service, Abraham welcomed God into his home. In his attentive listening to his guests, Abraham received the news that changed his entire life and history; “I shall visit you again next year without fail, and your wife will then have a son.” Listening to our Master, enriches our service and makes us fruitful in the service we render. In listening, the mystery, which is the very content of our service, is revealed to us. This mystery keeps us focused and concentrated by the awe it inspires and by its fascinating nature. This mystery “is Christ among you, your hope of glory: this is the Christ we proclaim, this is the wisdom in which we thoroughly train everyone and instruct everyone, to make them all perfect in Christ” (Col 1:24-28). This is the mystery that kept Mary at the feet of Jesus! This is the mystery that kept Abraham standing near his guests. How can one listen to and behold this mystery in order to be refocused and renewed and to avoid the destructive effects of being distracted. Through prayers, through spiritual retreat and frequent recollections and confessions, through spiritual reading and personal and collective meditations and through listening to others. Then is service truly Christian!
May God bless the varied services we render to Him and may He dispose us always to attentively listen to Him so as never to lose sight of the goal and focus of our services to Him; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE