Here is my homily for this Sunday. God bless all!
16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
July 16/17, 2016
Gen 18: 1-10a; Col 1: 24-28; Lk 10: 38-42
How do we discern “the better part”? We want what is good in life. We always want what we perceive to be good, yet how do we know what is truly good, the “better part”, when so many good things are possible?
Which job should I take? Which woman should I marry? Which religion should I practice? Which house should I buy? Which school should I attend? Which doctor should I consult? Which movies should I watch? What food should I eat? How do we discern “the better part” in all of this?
There are many good things, good people, good activities, good jobs, good careers from which to choose. There are many good ideas and opinions, good tastes, sounds, sights and smells. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that if they present themselves to us, we want them all, every last one of them! But we find we cannot have all of them, some of them are kept from us. This distracts us, upsets us, frustrates and worries us, and leaves us anxious.
Martha in the Gospel was choosing to do a lot of very good things and was anxious and worried about them all. What were those good things? She welcomed Jesus into her home. She made him comfortable. She provided for his physical needs. She fed him. These are indeed very good things, as any of us would agree. Yet we are told she was anxious and worried, and she became critical of Mary who chose something, someone else. She was distracted from the “better part” which Mary chose.
Jesus said in the Gospel, “There is need for only one thing.” How can this be when there seems to be a need for so many things in life? What did Jesus mean? Why are we so distracted and worried by small matters that seem to demand our attention yet leave us anxious and dissatisfied? Why do we tend to choose the good of today and not the good of eternity?
St. Augustine wrote in his famous Confessions, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Our hearts are restless until, in other words, they rest in God, who alone is truly good. God is the good, the “better part”. God is a greater good than life itself, we are told in the Scriptures. He ultimately, is the only Good in life. Remember in the Gospel story which we read at Mass sometimes when Jesus said to a man, “Why do you call me “good”? Only God, my Father, is good.” There is need only for God in our lives, in the last analysis. Everyone who has faith, at the moment of death, understands this.
I am convinced most of our disappointments and anxieties in life result from not having discerned well “the better part”. To make that discernment in life, we have to begin with the discipline of faith.
We need faith’s discipline in our lives, don’t we, if we are to discern “the better part”. We have to discipline ourselves to pay attention to, to focus on, the better part of things of daily life. It is in our very nature as humans to choose the better part if we but learn to recognize it. God is our teacher. He is our better part. We always will choose what we think to be the good, but so often what we choose are smaller, lesser goods because we have not disciplined ourselves, trained ourselves, to recognize the greater good and choose it over smaller, passing goods that only temporarily satisfy. What teaches us such needed discipline? God is our teacher. He will show us the better part in all things if we listen to him. We must put aside our worries and anxieties and stay focused on God,to be in a relationship with God, to gaze upon him in prayer every day, like Mary did. God knows this, so he gives us a tremendous gift, the gift of faith. When we accept this gift, a gift we do not deserve but is pure grace, we become able to see God’s presence in our lives and in our world. We no longer remain blind to “the better part”, to the greater good. The gift of faith, if we accept it and nurture it, enables our souls to gaze upon the presence of God, like Mary was able to do in the Gospel today. God is always present, teaching us “the better part” of life. The gift of faith sharpens our focus, disciplines our choices, clarifies our knowledge so we come to know that which is truly good in life and to choose it. It enables us to know God and the better course of action to take in life. Choices made from the eyes of faith are always choices for the “better part” because they are choices made for God and as God would have us choose, as God sees things and as he would want.
Our hearts are indeed restless until they rest in God, until what we choose in life is in accord with God’s design, with his vision for us, until we choose as that which will make us as God would have us be.
Without the eyes of faith, without gazing upon God presence all around us, we will be left to the ups and downs of things that seem good at the moment, but pass away quickly and leave us anxious and worried, restless for something or someone better, something only God can provide us, someone only God can be for us.
Look and see with the eyes of faith! God is all around you, always! He wants the best for you. He wants you to choose the better part. He wants you to choose him and his plan for your life. You have only to look and listen with the eyes and ears of faith, like Mary did. Once you have come to know God, you cannot help but love him and choose him, for he is the better part of life, the greatest of all goods, the true desire of your souls.