Cycle C Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Last Sunday the question was asked, “who is my neighbor?” Today’s first reading show’s Abraham’s response to that question in the way he treats three strangers. When we arc in Church do we reach out to say hello to people we do not know, or do we sit and complain because no one greets us? I remember people complaining one time that the bishop didn’t go around and greet people. What is wrong with people going around and greeting the bishop and each other? Do we expect others to always exhibit hospitality while we are exempt? I think it was Will Rogers who stated, “A stranger is just a friend I haven’t met yet.” The Psalm this week reminds us this week that hospitality is an issue of justice. Two weeks ago, we heard Paul boasting in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today he continues that thought when he says, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.” While Christ’s sufferings lacked nothing, do we take our meager sufferings and unite them to Jesus’? Do we complain about our sufferings, or do we transform our sufferings, as Jesus did? No one likes to suffer, but suffering need not be in vain. When we transform our sufferings by uniting them to Jesus’ we participate in his salvific action. If we are his body, the Church, how is it we strive to avoid the very thing that transforms the evil into a benefit for others, and ourselves? The alleluia verse before the Gospel today stresses, “Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and bring a harvest through perseverance.” Do we have a heart generous enough to suffer willingly for others so as to increase the harvest for Christ?
This Gospel would seem to contradict the story of Abraham, and what it means to show hospitality. Marth seems to be the one who follows Abraham’s example, while Mary seems to be simply lazy. Jesus however reminds us that spending quality time with one another is sometimes more important that providing a party. Sometimes all the work gets in the way of really welcoming someone. While the food and other things are nice and can be important, the challenge is to have our priorities in the right place. Which is more important a person or food? Now if the guests were starving, food might be the inm1ediate need, but in this case Jesus is telling us we cannot just provide for the surface needs. Which one of us do not value a friend who really listens to us? I remember hearing a woman complain that her husband doesn’t listen to her. He responded that he does and offers solutions to her problems. The issue here was that he was being a Martha not a Mary. The wife didn’t want or need a solution, sb wanted the husband to simply listen and “be with her.” When do we play Martha when the person we are with needs a Mary?

Author: yuengerwv

Retired Catholic Priest

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