Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“A woman whose name was Martha welcomed Jesus; she had a sister, Mary, who sat beside the Lord listening to him.”
I believe that this reading of scripture calls us to lead full and balanced lives. I do not wish to choose between the service of welcoming and attentive listening to the Lord’s word. Rather than either/or, it would seem that we are called to be both /and people.
To the extent that Mary assists with the welcoming duties, Martha will have time to participate in life-giving listening. This reading reminds me of the gospel mandate to love God with your whole heart and your neighbor as yourself.
Openness to the needs of one’s neighbor will help us to hear more fully the inspiration of our God. This account of the interaction of Martha and Mary calls us to both prayerful listening and generous service.
If, however, the demands of service cause us to not hear or to ignore God’s whispering, it is important to be less anxious about service and more attentive to God’s message. Because of this, we need to be reminded that Mary has chosen the better part. The whole gospel message is not contained in loving service to others no matter how significant this may be. Christian discipleship is, first and foremost, a personal allegiance to Jesus. Mary is affirmed in her choice of prayerful listening. Perhaps Martha is too anxious with regard to the minutiae of welcoming service.
And so we pray: Open us up, God, to deep understanding of your Word, which will hopefully overflow in acts of loving service to others. Amen.
Sr. Mary Eileen O’Brien, OP