“Jesus visits Martha and Mary” by Fr Val Collier SDB

“Jesus visits Martha and Mary”                          Reflection for  16 Sunday of the Year


Our Liturgical celebration today is about welcoming Christ who has come among us as our friend. The Gospel story as told by St. Luke has a lovely message in it. Jesus comes to a village in Judea and two sisters, Martha and Mary welcome him into their house. Martha being a good host, busies herself with preparing a meal while Mary sits beside Jesus and listens to his every word. Martha asks Jesus, does he not care that her sister is leaving her to do all the work of serving up the meal. Jesus replies by telling Martha that she is anxious and worried about too many things, while only a few things are necessary and one thing that is really important. That one important thing is the very thing Mary had chosen. It is to acknowledge the presence of the Lord; to be truly present to him, to spend time in the company of the Lord, to be quiet, to be still and to listen to the Lord speaking, to listen to his word. Why is this so important ? it is because he alone has the words of eternal life (Peter’s words), the words that give life.

On the occasion after Jesus had spent 40 days in the desert fasting and praying, he was tempted. The devil tempted him to change stones in to bread. Jesus responded to the devil by saying… ”man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” While we need ordinary bread to feed ourselves and to survive. We need the word of God to help us to live lives that are truly human and which enable us to live up to our potential, the potential to live as children of God and to fulfil God’s dream for us. The word of God in the Sacred Scriptures contains wonderful teaching and guidance for all of us to live our lives well. God also speaks to us in moments of quiet meditation and prayer.

Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus in Luke’s story is a beautiful example and witness to us of the one thing that is needed by all of us, and Jesus seized on this event to teach us that when all is said and done, the one thing that is needed above all else is, that we love God. This is the first and greatest commandment, that we love Him and show that love for him in our prayer. Putting aside moments every day for reading the scriptures and giving time to prayer does not come easy. It requires discipline and effort. Sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking that the Christian life is first and foremost about love and service of others. While love and service of others is part of our Christian Calling. This love and service is inspired by our love of God.

In this Gospel story, Jesus is not scolding Martha when he tells her she is anxious and worried about too many things. Many of us are like Martha. We can spend a lot of time living out of our heads, worrying about the past, thinking about the future and many things we have to do to- day or tomorrow. Our lives can be so busy that very little time is left for times of quiet prayer, reflection or meditation. Today Jesus is reminding us of that which is essential in our lives, and must be a priority above all else. That is that we make time for God in our daily lives. The truth is that we are made of both body and spirit. And just as our bodies need to be nourished every day with healthy food, so also does our spirit. Who knows what blessings could be ours were we to be more faithful to our prayer life. May the Lord bless you and keep you always in his love.