July 18: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Readings: Genesis 18:1-10; Colossians 1:24-28; Lk.10:38-42
The readings of this Sunday focus our attention on the Christian values of welcome and hospitality that pave the way for the presence of Christ in our lives and our homes. In the second reading from Paul’s Letter to the Colossians, Paul speaks about a mystery, “a mystery that has been hidden for ages is now manifested to God’s Holy Ones. The mystery is this: Christ is in you.” Usually when we use the word mystery, we think of a story that has an ending, and we try to solve the mystery before we get to the last page of the novel or last five minutes of the movie. When the Church uses the term mystery, it goes much deeper. For the Church a mystery is a truth that is incomprehensible to reason and knowable only through divine revelation. The Early Church referred to the sacraments as “mysteries”. When adults are about to come into the faith they are anointed with the Oil of Catechumens so they may have the strength and the grace to be open to learn the Mystery of faith, namely the events of the action of Jesus Christ in our world. At the most solemn moment in the Mass, after the Bread and Wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, we are called upon to proclaim the Mystery of Faith, and we respond something similar to: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” Paul, therefore reminds the Colossians and us that we have received the Mystery that Christ is in us. Sadly when it comes to this Mystery often times we have no clue. We tend to go about our day, busily doing this and that, overlooking the purpose for our actions; the reason for our being and our final destiny on our journey of faith.
The Gospel reminds us that we tend to be like Martha who was busy doing this and that in her efforts to prepare for Jesus. Mary, her sister, was concerned with being with Jesus. Instead of focusing on Jesus out there somewhere, we need to focus on Jesus present right here, in your lives, in your family and in others, in the Church, in the world. That is the mystery that St. Paul is speaking about. Jesus Christ is present right here. When we are attuned to the presence of the Lord, we will force ourselves to consider if a particular action or inaction will strengthen or weaken the Divine Presence. Just as God enters into the presence of Abraham who welcomes the three mysterious strangers in the first reading, so too Christ enters into the presence of Martha and Mary who joyfully welcome Jesus and his disciples in their home. The story of Martha and Mary underlines our two dimensions of Christian life. On the one hand, we have a dimension of “being with the Lord” like Mary. This is necessary for a mature and strong spiritual life. Being in quiet presence with Christ gives us the space to pause and read our road map; to listen to the Lord for guidance; to regain our sense of direction. On the other hand, we tend to “doing things” for the Lord like Martha. We can be so active that we forget prayer or neglect “being with Christ.” We need both dimensions in a balanced way. So what message do we take home? 1) Just as God enters into the presence of Abraham in welcoming the three mysterious strangers, so too does God enter into our presence in welcoming everyone who comes our way. 2) Christian values of welcome and hospitality point to the mystery of Christ’s presence in our lives and in our homes. 3) We need to find a balance between our “being with Christ” like Mary, and our “doing things for the Lord” like Martha.
©2010 John S. Mbinda