YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: PRAYER AND ACTION
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42 (Martha and Mary)
Message # 468: “Go and Evangelize”
- The Marian Message (# 468: “Go and Evangelize”)
a) The Blessed Mother recognizes the danger of the spread of false prophets and hirelings in the Church. So she calls on her faithful children to “Go and Evangelize!” The call is urgent; otherwise the false prophets will succeed in their mission of sowing errors and deception in the Church.
b) Contents of Evangelization: repentance and conversion; destruction of the idols of money, pride, egoism, impurity, atheism and violence (letter k); the practice of all Christian virtues of peace, love and holiness (letter m).
c) Areas of evangelization: to all of humanity (letter k); to the suffering and divided Church (letter l); and to all men (letter m).
d) Towards this end, she urges all her children to multiply cenacles of prayer: among children, youth, families, priests and the communities of the faithful (BEC’s) (letter n). From these cenacles, we can evangelize people; we become ourselves the “apostles of this second evangelization” (letter o).
e) There is a classic saying in Latin: “Nemo dat quod non habet.” No one can give that which he does not have. In the task of evangelization, this is very true. How can we share the Gospel of Jesus when we ourselves have very little knowledge and insight of it? There is a need, therefore, to spend time with the Lord, listening to him, and learning from him. This is the purpose of having regular cenacles of prayer – the Blessed Mother, who instructed the Apostles in the Cenacle (Upper Room) while awaiting the Holy Spirit, is the one who teaches us many things concerning the Christian faith. This message is closely related to the Gospel this Sunday. Jesus warned Martha for being so busy that she had no time to listen to his teachings. On the other hand, he praised her sister, Mary, because she has chosen the better portion – she sat down and listened to every word that Jesus said.
- The Sunday Readings
a) The first reading, Genesis, 18:1-10, is about the visit of the angels in human form to Abraham. He showed them generous hospitality. At the end of the visit, the angels promised him that his wife, Sarah, though advanced in years, will have a son. Abraham, the father of many nations, is called a man of faith. He did not lose faith in God even in the most uncertain and trying times. This incident showed how his faith was rewarded.
b) The response to the Psalm is, “He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.” Justice is the minimum requirement of love. It is the virtue that gives to one what is due to him. Psalm 15: 2-5 is an invitation to live a life of honesty, justice and righteousness. Indeed, such a man will always find favor with God.
c) The second reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians (1:24-28). He talks about the value of suffering. In fact, he said, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” He explained this: “In my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, on behalf of his body, which is the Church.” In other words, he is saying that his sufferings are his sharing in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of the Church. It is through Christ’s sufferings that the Church is receiving abundant graces. When Christians join Jesus in obeying the will of the Father, this entails sufferings, but this is the way to open up the Church to more graces from heaven. In this way, we become co-redeemers with Christ, a channel through which Christ’s saving grace continues to flow into the world. Jesus did not save us from suffering. He saved us through suffering.
d) The Gospel is the classic exposition of two different ways of following the Lord: action and contemplation. Martha represents active discipleship; Mary represents contemplative discipleship. Which of the two is more desirable? It all depends on what calling we received. Some are called to active ministry; others are called to contemplative ministry. But Jesus gently chided Martha for being so anxious and worried about so many things. On the other hand, she approved of Mary’s decision to sit down and listen to every word he spoke. Indeed, “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Martha’s active ministry lacked spiritual inputs and enlightenment. That is why she was too busy and worried about so many things. Mary’s attentiveness to the words of Jesus must have given her enough light and inspiration to embark on a more fruitful and edifying ministry, devoid of worries and anxiety.
e) The theme that is common in the Sunday readings is that of trust and faith in the Lord. Abraham was not worried about being childless. He was confident that God would not forget His promise. And he was rewarded with the gift of a son, Isaac. St. Paul was faced with so many troubles and difficulties in spreading the Gospel to the Gentiles. But he was undaunted by such sufferings. Rather, he embraced them as his way of sharing in the sufferings of Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus made Martha realize that in any kind of activity and service to God, faith is essential, so that there is no need to worry and be anxious. One has, therefore, to take time to be still and listen to the Word of God with full faith and trust in His wisdom and providence.
- Points for Reflections
a) Jesus took time to rest and relax.
Bethany was the favorite resting place of Jesus. It is less than two miles east of Jerusalem. He would usually stay in the house of Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. During the week preceding his passion, Jesus spent his nights in Bethany while his days were spent preaching in Jerusalem. It was from this town that Jesus set out with his disciples on his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The fact that Jesus had a favorite resting place and set of friends illustrates that, being true man, he is also like us. He was very busy, but he finds time to relax and enjoy the company of friends. Being busy in life is not an excuse to forgo vacations, days off or moments of relaxation. Our body also needs some rest in order to function properly and fruitfully.
b) Pray, and then, work.
Too often we hear many Catholics say, “I am too busy working for the Lord. So I have no time to pray. My work is already my prayer.” This reminds us of the case of a man who was praying and at the same time, also smoking. A priest saw him and gave him this valuable advice: “It is okay to pray while you smoke; but it is not right to smoke while you pray.” This is similar to the issue on working and praying. When we are tempted to justify ourselves for not having time to pray by saying, “My work is my prayer”, let us remember this: It is alright to pray while we work; but it is not possible to work while we pray. As we always say, first things first. Jesus reminded Martha about this. Before working, we have to pray first so that there is guidance, enlightenment, inspiration and strength from God. If we know we will be very busy on that particular day, the more time we need to spend in prayer. The Scriptures tell us: “If God does not build the house, in vain do the workers labor.” Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches; apart from me, you can do nothing.” So, if we are made to choose: work or prayer? The answer is: work and prayer. Work alone is useless; prayer alone is meaningless. If the question is, which of the two should be first? The answer is prayer first, then work. When man works, it is only man that works; when man prays, it is God who works. So when prayer precedes our work, we are confident that God will help us finish our work successfully and fruitfully. There will no more worries, stress and anxieties.
c) Focus on Jesus and His Word.
Jesus came into the world to save mankind. All his words and actions were dedicated to this goal. He did not need anything from this world; it is the world that needs him. This is what he tried to inculcate in the minds of his listeners. He came to the house of Martha and Mary, not because he needs to eat and be entertained. He came to bring the Good News. But instead of listening to him, Martha was more concerned with preparing food for her guests, and in the process she was upset that Mary did not help her. Very clearly then, Martha’s focus was not anymore on Jesus, but on herself: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?” So Jesus told her that “Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.” Mary did what the Lord primarily intended. He came to give the Word of God, and Mary listened, but Martha was too busy in the kitchen. There was nothing wrong with preparing food for the guests. What was wrong was that she had no time to listen to the Lord’s teachings. As a result, her service, noble and laudable as it is, was mixed with selfish motives, resentment and lots of anxieties and worries.
d) There is joy even in suffering.
St. Paul expressed joy in his sufferings. Joy is a Christian virtue. It can be present even in the midst of severe difficulties and sufferings. This is clear in the lives of the saints, especially the martyrs. Joy is not dependent upon passing things in this world – money, fame, success and material things. Rather, it all depends on one’s awareness of God’s presence and the acknowledgement of His abundant graces. Every Christian should be naturally joyful as a matter of disposition. When troubles and problems come, joy does not disappear, knowing that God is always with him especially in those difficult moments. This may sound so strange to many of us, but this has been the real experience of the saints. It behooves us, therefore, to be aware of God’s presence in our life all the time. That will surely make us joyful and full of hope. That is already a prelude to heaven. After all, the true cause of perfect happiness in heaven is the complete presence of God, or what is called the beatific vision of God.
Song: Come Holy Spirit
QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Sa inyong palagay, ano kaya ang mga dahilan kung bakit nakakainip at ang hirap maglaan ng oras sa pagdarasal, samantalang hindi naman tayo napapagod at naiiinip magbabad sa telepono o sa harapan ng telebisyon at computer?
2. Ibahagi sa mga kasama ang inyong sariling schedule ng pagdarasal araw-araw. Marahil ito ay makatutulong sa ating kapwa kung paanong mapaglalaanan ng panahon ang pananalangin.
3. Alin ang mas mahalaga para sa iyo: ang pagdarasal o ang pagkilos sa apostolado? Ipaliwanag ang iyong sariling pananaw ukol dito.