Homily  16th Sunday Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo· Gen 18:1-10a
· Ps 15:2-3,3-5
· Col 1:24-28
· Luke 10:38-42
Listening and Serving the Lord in our NeighborsAs we worship today, as we listen to the Bible readings of today, the first reading, the second reading, the Psalms and the Gospel of Luke, what stands out for you? Hospitality or sitting at the feet of Jesus? Is there anything we could learn from Abraham, Sarah, or Saint Paul? What would you consider more important: service to your neighbor or spending some time, perhaps hours, with the Lord, before the Blessed Sacraments, daily? Hearing not doing, or doing not hearing? What seems to stand out for me are both? That is, we need the listening Mary and the busy Martha. We need the contemplatives, and the non-contemplatives. We cannot put the word of God into practice, without listening, reflecting on it, or understanding what the Lord wants us to do or where to go. We need both, hospitality and listening to the Lord. Perhaps, we also need to have some priorities set in our lives, to be better listeners and doers of the word of God.
I am thinking this way, because in the first reading (Gen 18:1-10a) we witness how Abraham and his wife Sarah offer hospitality to three unknown strangers who turn out to be angels. As a result Abraham and Sarah were blessed and were rewarded. They had a son, Isaac, together, in their old age. Of course, ancient people, Jews and Christian always believed that the best way to serve God was to be hospitable to our neighbors. Remember, last Sunday, we learn about who our neighbor is, in the parable of the Good Samaritan(Luke 10:25-37). The way we treat one another, might end up been the way we might have responded to God!
In the Second reading, Saint Paul acknowledges himself as God’s steward chosen to preach the gospel and reveal the mystery of Christ to everyone, Jews and Gentiles (Col 1:24-28). He also invites all of us, Christians, to dispose ourselves, receive and share hospitably the mysteries of Christ. There should be no barriers in sharing the love and the mercy of Christ with others.
In the Gospel, Martha welcomes Jesus and runs around preparing dinner for him, while her sister, Mary spent her time sitting, talking, chatting and listening to Jesus. Martha, as any of us would, complains. She thinks Mary who was not helping her was burning her out. The more reason, I ask in the beginning which one is more important. Who is more important, Mary or Martha? It’s challenging. Isn’t it?
Granted that in our various professions, doctors, teachers, professors, parents, priests, chefs, factory workers, military, police officers etc; we are all serving our nations and our neighbors. But we also need at some point to make time to recharge our spiritual energies. This could come in form of daily masses, personal prayer, retreats, saying the rosary, lectio divina- meditative reading of the scriptures or taking part at family prayers. Not always work, work; work!
On the other hand we need the Marthas in our homes, communities, churches and nations. We need people who can get the job done. Our nations, our parishes needs dynamic parishioners, men and women, boys and girls who are generous, and who belong to various groups, the knights, pastoral councils, the choir , the women and youths organization to get things done. We need both the “listening Marys and the serving Marthas.”I have mentioned listening here many times. We live today in a world that is not only noisy with sounds, TV, radio, all forms of music and fireworks, but we are isolated from one another because of cell phones and ipads. Sometimes these things makes is difficult for us to listen to our spouses, our children, and seniors, our parishioners, and our parents.
No matter how active we may be, in our works and services, we need to set our priorities right, find the time, no matter how short, to listen to God and to one another. And this must be the basis of what we charitably do and how we relate and treat one another. As we participate in this Holy Eucharist today, may be nourished with the spirit of hospitality and service, as well as with the zeal to be better listeners and doers of the word of God.