FR. GERALD MUOKA HOMILY FOR THE 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: PLAYING HOST TO JESUS
(Ile Jesu obia)
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILYFOR SUNDAY JULY 17 2022
R1 – Gen 18:1-10
R2 – Col 1:24-28
GPSPEL – Luke 10:38-42
There was a well-known fable about Jesus visiting his friends. Once Jesus promised a pious old lady that he would visit her that day. She got ready, cleaned the house, scrubbed everything to shining, kept things in order, and sat waiting for the Lord to come to her house. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. She rushed to open the door and saw only a poor shabbily dressed beggar. She was disappointed and told the beggar that she was not free and was waiting for an important guest. He must quickly go away. The beggar was confused and sad. A bit later there was another knock to find a familiar old man for help. She was not free to take care of him and she sent him away by slamming the door. After some time there was another knock and she ran to the door to find a hungry beggar asking for bread. She was annoyed and sent him away empty-handed. She sat down and waited for Jesus and there was no sign of him. She went to bed with a heavy heart. The good Lord came to her in the dream and she complained. He said that he did come three times and she had denied entry to him.
Beloved in Christ, the readings of this Sunday’s liturgy draw our attention to a common, yet rare and lacking virtue among christians, that opens heavens for our favours and blessings, hospitality. Just as we see in the introit story, God visits us in disguised forms for a show of hospitality; with an intent to unleash heavenly favours and blessings upon us. But many a time, we fail to oblige ourselves and seize such golden moments to please God through hospitality.
The first reading from the book of Genesis, describes God’s homely visit to the house of Abraham and the warm welcome and generous hospitality God receives from Abraham. God appears in the garbs of three strangers who are passing by in front of Abraham’s tent as he relaxes at mid-day. He does not recognize the divine visitors immediately but he goes out of his way to welcome them into his home and to offer them the best meal he can offer to make them comfortable.
The strangers come with a special blessing from God for Abraham and his wife Sarah. After enjoying their hospitality, the strangers announce the promise of God that Sarah will bear a son.
St Paul, in the Second Reading, invites us to open our hearts and minds and to show our own hospitality to the mystery of Christ which he preaches and equally to cultivate that quality of hospitality which welcomes all others in Christ.
Whereas, in the Gospel passage, we see how two descendants of Abraham, Martha and Mary following the footsteps of Abraham, manifest the various aspects and dimensions of hospitality, via, serving and listening. As Martha was busy preparing an elaborate meal for Jesus, her sister Mary spent her time in talking to Jesus and listening to him. Both of them demonstrated varied forms of hospitality that cannot be played down on, even though Jesus, with a soft mediation to Martha’s agitation, prefers Mary’s listening ingenuity to Martha’s diligence in serving. One major reason I could deduce from Jesus utterance, “It is Mary who has chosen the better part,” is that, listening is a free virtue which everyone can afford, unlike Martha’s service that requires professionalism and resources. Alot of sick, depressed and elderly people now need people to talk to and listen to their stories for relief and consolation.
*SUBSTITUTING HOSPITALITY WITH ENTERTAINMENT*
The word, ‘hospitality’ is derived from the Latin hospes, meaning “host”, “guest”, or “stranger”. Hospes is formed from hostis, which means “stranger” or “enemy” (the latter being where terms like “hostile” is derived). So, hospitality is from the Latin hospitalitem (nominative hospitalitas), meaning, “friendliness to guests or strangers.
However, we sometimes mistaken and substitute hospitality with entertainment. What many of us call hospitality today is simply entertainment. We host our friends and well wishers, which has nothing to do with hospitality, because we expect them to host us in return. The etymological derivation indicates that, it should be chiefly extended to strangers or foes in order to qualify as hospitality.
Jesus, first warns us against substituting hospitality with entertainment and equally redefined the principles of hospitality when he said to his host, “When you give a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” (Lk.14:12-14)
Generally, entertaining aims at showing off ones beautiful home, clever decorations, and cooking prowess, while Hospitality, sees the home with all the costly adornments as gifts from God, using them as God desires; aims to serve God through humanity.
More importantly, hospitality is more than inviting someone to the dinner. It involves opening up, welcoming, accepting, giving, sharing, loving, advocating, even sacrificing.
(1) *THE WORLD STILL NEEDS GOOD LISTENERS*
Mary, becomes a figure to be imitated in today’s liturgy by acquiring and persevering in the virtue of listening. Most often, we are too busy to listen… In as much as we try to balance and appreciate Martha’s rendition of genuine services to the Lord, Mary has become a symbol of you and me in the modern world. We have become so active and busy with living our lives that we no longer have time to slow down and quietly listen to God, or even to our spouse, kids, or friends. We sometimes, nod affirmatively at their words without listening. Sometimes, we become so preoccupied and active in doing good things that our activities become a cover-up for our lack of listening and quiet caring. A little kindergarten girl once aspired to be an iPhone, just because the mother gives more time and attention to her phone than the little baby.
(2) *WE NEED TO SERVE THE LORD, IMMITATING MARTHA’S DILIGENCE IN SERVICE*
Martha’s role in today’s liturgy cannot be undermined or de-emphasised.
She taught us the importance of using our gifts and talents in rendering services to God. She won our admiration today through her kitchen ministry. We then ask ourselves, “Of what use are our gifts and blessings to God and humanity?” Do we use them to improve or worsen things around us?
Most of the famous inventors and scientists sacrificed their whole lives on their research for the betterment of human lives. Now let’s think about how much energy we put into the Lord’s work in an age when people are self-serving, self-centered, and self-indulgent.
(3) *WE SHOULD LEARN TO SEE GOD IN OTHERS*
The scripture assures us that God created us in his own image and likeness (Gen 1:26). So, we ought to see God in our neighbours and treat them as we would treat God, because God often comes to us in many disguised forms, especially through the poor and the needy. Little wonder Jesus tells us, “In truth I tell you, whatsoever you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40).
Finally, a story was told one day about St Martin of Tours, while he was still in the military and a catechumen of the faith, Martin encountered a beggar in Amiens. The beggar was unclothed and it was very cold. Martin removed his cloak and with his sword, he cut it in half. He gave this half to the beggar and dressed himself in the remnant. That night, Martin had a vision in which Christ appeared to him. Jesus himself was clothed with the torn cloak.
The vision spoke to him, “Martin, a mere catechumen has clothed me.”
When he awoke, the garment was restored.
MAY THE ALMIGHTY GOD HELP US TO ALWAYS SEE HIM IN OUR NEIGHBOURS AND TREAT THEM WITH LOVING AND TENDER CARE.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA._
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