Homily – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Martha’s busy and Mary’s quiet!

In recent weeks and months, there are many people who try to ‘escape’ the winter in Melbourne and to find warmer weather in other places. In other words, people go away for a holiday: a time of resting, a time of getting away and a time for recharging after a busy life that one has been living. Time of busy versus the time of quiet and relaxation. 

Today’s gospel introduces us to two women: Martha, the perfect host and Mary the perfect disciple. They are both eager to serve Jesus but they go about it in different ways. Martha is the perfect host. She prepares the house for Jesus and his disciples. She cooks the food and serves everyone because she is thinking that they are tired and hungry. Mary is the perfect disciple who knows at this time she needs to sit and listen to the Word of God or listen to what her guests want to share; in this case, Mary intensively listens to Jesus. 

When we read this passage of scripture, we get the image of a house busy with people engaged in numerous conversations around the house. Martha is running about trying to figure out how everybody is going to get fed and coordinating the logistics of cooking for all the people. Somewhere in a secluded corner; the Lord, Jesus Christ is calmly teaching a handful of people who are intently listening to his every word. Mary is sitting at his feet, very content and very settled.

Martha’s outlook on life was quite different from Mary’s. The point of the story of Jesus with Mary and Martha is not to invite us to choose between being a Martha or a Mary, because we do attempt to compare the two figures and want to pick our favourite one among these two. However, we are invited to be both Martha and Mary. The one who is busy doing things and the one who sits quietly and lets things get into their mind and heart.  

There is a big question that helps us to reflect on this gospel: when do I see the need of myself to be busy like Martha? When do I see the need for myself to be quiet and reflective like Mary? Then, do I see that there are moments in my family or workplace whether my family members or friends need a time of solitude? Or are they under any sort of pressure and need to be supported?

Martha and Mary are the combination between work and contemplation, between prayer and service, between listening and doing. They go together. They are not in opposition with each other but complementary. We need the two in our lives as Christians or as the person of faith. We do sometimes need silence to be able to acknowledge God’s plan for us. We do need sometimes to be active and complete all the tasks that we need to do. 

Let each one us this weekend, having the image of Martha and Mary as the reminder that we are invited to be both in our daily lives. When and who do I need to be like?  May Martha and Mary always inspire us in what we need to do for ourselves and for others.

By Fr Trac Nguyen




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