BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya


Genesis 18:1-10
Psalm 14:2-5
Colossians 1:24-28
Luke 10:38-42

On this 16th Sunday in the ordinary time of the liturgical year, we continue our reflection on the theme of “Christian discipleship”, as pointed out in the events of today’s first and the gospel readings. In the first reading, Abraham’s hospitality challenges us to a welcoming attitude, a virtue expected of every Christian disciple.

Hospitality is a virtue, a strength of soul that should characterize every Christian’s life. This theme of hospitality is what ties the first reading and the gospel reading of today together. While in the first reading Abraham’s hospitality is rewarded with a blessing (a promise of a son. Cf Genesis 18:10), Martha’s hospitality appears to be met with a ‘reproach’ from the Lord, in the gospel. Hence we are left to strike a balance between the message of the first reading and the gospel.

The point is: Abraham, Martha and Mary were all seeking to please the Lord and made him welcome. But Jesus uses the opportunity of Martha’s and Mary’s choices to teach and emphasise what receiving him requires – hearing him (paying attention to his word), having the soul of a disciple. Martha was busy doing the work of the Lord, while Mary was more interested in knowing the Lord of the work. For Martha, service comes first, meanwhile for Mary relationship comes first.

STORY: A certain Christian Missionary was doing a very good job in his mission village in the Africa interior. In a few years he had baptized many people, built a Church, a school and a health centre. Owing to his restless working schedule, he took ill and had to be flown back to his native country in Europe for treatment and recovery. After many months he was well enough to return to Africa. To his surprise and utter disappointment, he discovered that the whole village had abandoned his Church and turned to a local evangelical preacher. “What went wrong?” he asked himself. “What did I do wrong?” he asked some of his former Church members. The truth hit home one day when a woman said to him: “Father, you did a lot for us. You gave our Children clothes and built up our village. But there was one thing you didn’t do. You didn’t bring us to know Jesus as our personal Lord and saviour.”

Beloved in Christ, doing the work of the Lord is great, but knowing the Lord of the work must come first. How do we know the Lord of the work? To know the Lord of the work requires us to be like Mary who desires nothing else, but to be with the Lord, listening and learning from his word (teaching). Therefore, “presence is a quality of soul, a character trait, a habit of mental alertness, an openness of mind that allows us to integrate our lives and our very selves into the live(s) of others (Christ).” It is a prerequisite for intimacy and it is an essential characteristic of discipleship.” (cf. Fr. Charles Irwin’s homily for this day, www.catholicweb.com)

St Paul in the second reading reminds us all of our call as Christian disciples when he says: “… I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known…” (cf. Col. 1:25) To make the word of God fully known is the mandate we have all received as Christ’s disciples. But how can we make the word of God fully known to others around us, if not by first paying attention to Christ who is the word of God himself. “Nemo dat quod non habet” It is only after we ourselves have had a deeper knowledge of Christ himself, that we can make him known fully, to others.

We must first listen and receive Christ with simplicity of heart before engaging in any active service. Jesus was not in any way condemning Martha’s service, rather he was asking her to get her priorities right. As a matter of fact, a Christian disciple needs to be both Mary and Martha, that is, we must be both contemplative and active, only that contemplation must come first if we really want our service to be meaningful and productive. If we place it the other way round, it would be like the story of the missionary – “building structures and not building the people.” That is, the case of putting the cart before the horse.

Beloved in Christ, do not let us get too busy to pay attention to God, because if God should get too busy to pay attention to us, our lives would be nothing but meaningless. Christ is speaking and wants us to sit and listen to him. He is speaking to us in the scripture, but do we create enough time daily to read the word of God and be with the Lord in meditation and contemplation.

*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*

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