July 17, 2016 - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
Maybe Martha is trying to do too much. Or maybe not. Maybe she is just trying to do her best. Either way, she gets a gentle rebuke from Jesus.
Maybe Mary is not trying hard enough. Maybe she is a bit lazy. Or maybe she is so fascinated by her guest that she just can’t get enough of his words. Either way, she gets praised.
So what’s the problem for Martha? Why the rebuke? It can’t be her hospitality, because Abraham and Sarah are praised for their hospitality in the first reading.
They are even rewarded with a son in their old age. And we are told that they went through a lot of trouble for their guests. So why is Martha rebuked for the same thing?
Maybe this...Aren’t you going to notice all the work I’m doing? She wants praise for her work. Aren’t you going to tell her to help me? She has resentment because her sister is not helping.
Was she providing hospitality just to be noticed, just to be praised? If so, she was doing it for all the wrong reasons.
What might this look like in our lives today, this wanting to be noticed, wanting to be liked, wanting to be praised?
We have become very attached to our technology. We are tied to our smart phones. We are very reliant on social media. It seems that we use social media to validate our self-worth and boost our self-esteem.
That makes us like Martha. Hustling and bustling for what? We can’t seem to put those phones down. We can’t help ourselves. And now Pokemon Go! For what?
Do we really have to check every message and answer every phone call? We are constantly scrolling through Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, wanting to be liked. Do we really need to tell every detail of our lives on Instagram through selfies.
And what happens? Meaningless, helplessness, anxiety, depression, distraction, disconnection. These all begin to set in, all in a desire to be liked, to be recognized, to be noticed, just like Martha.
So what’s the remedy? Well, I’m not sure. Less worry, less anxiety. That’s easy to say, but what does that mean? Maybe it means acting with a more charitable spirit? Maybe it means doing good without expecting praise.
We cannot provide hospitality or compassion or charity or mercy to others and expect something in return.
We cannot post things on Facebook with the hopes that they will be liked. We cannot live our lives thinking all our selfies on Instagram will find us love or win us fame.
We need to learn to be still. We need to learn to be quite. This will help us surrender to Jesus. It’s hard to be quiet and listen.
Whether we are sitting or standing, whether we are resting or working, whether we are giving or receiving, can we be still and surrender to Jesus? Like Mary, we can learn to take in all that Jesus offers.
And today Jesus offers us hospitality at his table. Today Jesus asks us to be seated around his table as he prepares a meal for us. Today Jesus asks us to unplug for a moment and be present to him.
Today Jesus asks us to sit at his feet and listen to his words. Today Jesus asks us to eat and drink his body and blood as spiritual food.
When we do this, we choose the better portion, and it will not be denied us.