Homily 16th Sunday of Year C: Michael U Udoekpo
Readings: Gen 18:1-10a; Ps15:2-3, 3-5; Col 1:24-28 and Luke 10:38-42
Washing the Feet of Our Neighbors
Today we celebrate the 16th Sunday of Ordinary Season. And with today's beautiful Bible Readings we are being reminded that God puts each of us in the world to love him, serve him, know him, obey him and trust in his abiding presence. And when I say all of us, I mean men, women and children. And we do this best on how we run around, share our time and talents or even wash our neighbors’ feet, which is a continuation of the lessons of last Sunday- the importance of reaching out to our neighbors, no matter where the person comes from, or what he/she looks like ( Luke 10:25-37).
In the Gospel reading of today (Luke 10:38-42) Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus displayed and shared their gifts with Jesus who was travelling to Jerusalem. Martha welcomed Jesus (hepodechomai). I am sure If Martha had spoken English she would politely have said to Jesus, Welcome My Lord Jesus, or Benvenuniti!, in Italian. Or Wilkommen Sie!, were Martha to be German, or still Bienvenido, Bienvenue in Spanish and French-respectively. Or in my native Efik/Annang language- Jesus, Obong mi Emidi! In your different languages we could hear Martha warmly say to Jesus – My Lord you are welcome!( Luke 10:38). Martha received the travelling Jesus to their home. She ran around the house serving Jesus, perhaps with food and drinks!
Mary on the other hand who may have also helped received Jesus sat at his feet (parakatheszomai/podos), listening to him (akouō). Sometimes we take listening for granted. We should not take this for granted. Listening to one another, being present for one another, taking interest in what our friends, spouse, children, colleagues, our loved ones and neighbors had to say, especially in this age of texting and smart phones, is courtesy, its respect, its charity. It is another way of welcoming that person, and washing the feet of that neighbor.
The same message is heard in the first reading, the Book of Genesis (18:1-10a), where Abraham welcomes God, and the Angels. He washes their feet. Imagine this to be a hot summer dusty day, about 93 decrees, Abraham saw three traveling men in front of his tent. Like Martha and Mary, he ran (wayya rûṣ) to welcome them and prostrated with respect before them (wayyisttahû). He provided them with the water of hospitality to wash their feet (rāhas raglāyim), something Christ would do to his disciples in John 13:1-15, a lessons of love and humility in service to one another, which we reenact on every Holy Thursday. (I am sure you would recalled that last Holy Thursday, Pope Francis also symbolically included two women among those he washed their feet). However, Abraham fed the three traveling guests. After the meal one of them asked for Sarah and promised the barren Sarah a son that would come to be Isaac, a source of laughter and joy to the family of Abraham.
We know the times are hard and difficulty. Remember God works in a mysterious way. He reveals himself in different forms (Col1:24-28). We might be welcoming angels and God’s blessings upon our family as well, by the way we “wash our neighbor’s feet,” and by the way we welcome one another, receive one another, talk to one another, listen to one another, be patient with one another, give one another a second chance, provide for one another, pray for one another, reach-out for another, watch one another’s back, and share our gifts, time and talents with one another.