Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (José Antonio Pagola)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year CLeave a Comment

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There is nothing more necessary

The episode is somewhat surprising.  The disciples who accompany Jesus have disappeared from the scene.  Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, is absent.  Jesus is alone with two women in their home in the small village of Bethany.  They adopt two different attitudes at his arrival.

As the homemaker, Martha, who is undoubtedly the elder sister, welcomes Jesus and puts herself wholly at his service.  It is normal.  According to the mentality of the time, doing housework is exclusively the woman’s task.  But then the younger sister Mary sits besides Jesus at his feet in order to listen to his Word.  Her attitude is surprising since she is occupying the place belonging to a “disciple,” something restricted to men.

At one point, Martha, overtasked and exhausted, feels abandoned by her sister and misunderstood by Jesus:  “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?  Tell her to help me.”  Why does he not order her sister to devote herself to tasks appropriate for women and quit occupying the place reserved for male disciples?

Jesus’ reply is very important.  Luke composes it thinking probably of the disagreements and small conflicts that arise in the first communities at the time of the designation of various duties:  “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Jesus does not criticize at any time Martha’s attitude of service, an essential duty of every follower of Jesus, yet he invites her not to let herself be absorbed in her work to the point of losing her peace.  And he gives the reminder that listening to his Word has to be everyone’s priority, the women’s as well, and not some kind of a male privilege.

It is urgent today to understand and organize the Christian community as the place where attention is given, first and foremost, to the welcoming of the Gospel in the midst of the secular and pluralistic society of our day.  There is nothing more important.  Nothing more necessary.  We have to learn to gather together, men and women, believers and less than believers, in small groups in order to listen to and share together the words of Jesus.

This listening to the Gospel in small “cells” can be today the “stem” from which is regenerated the tissue of our parishes in crisis.  If the simple people know first hand the Gospel of Jesus, enjoy it and demand it of the hierarchy, it will draw us all toward Jesus.

José Antonio Pagola

July 21, 2013
16 Ordinary Time (C)
Lucas 10, 38-42

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