Here is my homily for the weekend. God bless all!
16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
July 20/21, 2019
Gen 18: 1-10a; Col 1: 24-28; Lk 10: 38-42
In our first reading today we hear of how three strangers approached Abraham in the desert, and how Abraham did what was expected of men in that culture; he provided for the strangers’ comfort. He fed them, gave them rest, and welcomed them into his home. For his hospitality, he was rewarded with the promise of a son. Then we jump ahead almost 2000 years and hear of another unanticipated guest arriving at the home of Martha and Mary: Jesus. It was the obligation of women in that culture me welcome guests, feed them, provide for their bathing, and other aspects of hospitality. Both Martha and Mary no doubt understood this well, and Martha set about doing just that. Mary, though, chose something unexpected. She broke custom, and listened and looked at Jesus with attention. Martha couldn’t understand why Mary would do this, and she was anxious and complained to Jesus. What did Jesus say? Mary had chosen the “better part” and it would not be taken from her.
The question is, “How do we know the ‘better part’ in our lives?
We always want what is good, yet how do we know what is truly good, the better part, when so many good things seem possible?
Every day we are faced with that question. Sometimes it is with the big decisions of life like which job should I take, which woman should I marry, which religion should I practice, or which house should I buy? Most of the time it is with little decisions of daily life: How should I spend my time today; what movie should I watch; what food should I prepare? How do we discern “the better part” in all of this?
There are many good things, good people, good activities, good jobs, and good careers from which to choose. There are many good ideas and opinions about a lot of things. If we are honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we want them all good things, every last one of them, but we cannot have all of them because some of them are kept from us. This can distract and upset us, frustrate and worry us, and leave us anxious.
Martha in the Gospel chose to do a lot of very 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. She did for Jesus what we heard Abraham did for those three men who came to him. Abraham was quick to offer hospitality to the stranger, as should we to the strangers in our midst today. Martha and Abraham were very much alike. Yet we are told Martha was anxious and worried, and she became critical of Mary who chose something else. Jesus told her: “There is need for only one thing. Mary has chosen it.” What was this one thing?
It was gazing on God with faith.
St. Augustine wrote in his famous Confessions, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” Our hearts are restless until they rest in God. God is the “better part”. He ultimately, is the Good of life. Remember in the Gospel when Jesus said to a man, “Why do you call me good? Only God, my Father, is good.” In the end, God alone is what we will need and desire. Everyone who has faith understands this. Nothing else will satisfy us very long. Our hearts are indeed restless until they rest in God, until what we choose things in our lives that are in accord with God’s design, with his vision for us, until we choose that which will make us as God would have us be.
But we need faith, don’t we, to know the “better part.” Faith means we must be in relationship with God and stay focused on Him, to gaze upon him in prayer every day. The gift of faith will enable our souls to gaze upon the presence of God, like Mary gazed upon Jesus. Faith will sharpen our focus, discipline our choices, and clarify our knowledge so we will in fact come to know God and the better course of action to take in all of life’s decisions. 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 us to take.
Without the eyes of faith, without gazing upon God presence, we will be anxious and worried, restless for something or someone better, for 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! Gaze upon him. He wants the best for you. 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 greatest of all goods, the true desire of your souls.