Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 18, Luke 10: 38-42
From time to time in these homlies, I get off on the topic that virtue stands in the middle, that we never find virtue at an extreme. I believe this little saying is true. If I, for example, decide to pray for 24 hours a day, doing nothing but pray, that is an extreme and it is wrong. I have other important things to do also. I would imagine we are all familiar with the words of the Bible in the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, where it tells us for quite a few verses that there is a time for this and a time for that. This quote promotes the idea of balance in our lives. So, I believe the little saying that virtue stands in the middle between the extremes is one we should all be aware of and follow.
Today’s Gospel gives us the story of Martha and Mary. Martha is portrayed as being busy, busy, busy with the work of preparing lunch for Jesus and his followers who have stopped at their home. Mary is pictured as sitting at the feet of Jesus listening intently to every word he says. People have been arguing for centuries about who is right and who is wrong. Jesus kind of settles the argument by telling us that Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her. But if we follow the axiom given above, they are both wrong if what they are doing is regarded as being an extreme.
The motto of the Benedictine Order is Ora et Labora (pray and work). One day, so the story goes, one of the novices questioned this, probably seeking more time for prayer than for work. So the Abbot invited him out for a boat ride. The Abbot was rowing the boat – with one oar. And the boat was going nicely around in circles getting nowhere. The novice pointed out to the Abbot that if he wanted to get anywhere, he had better use two oars. The Abbot agreed, saying: “You are right, Son. The right oar is prayer, the left is work. Unless you use them both together, you just go in circles.”
So it is with life. We do get confused with things from time to time. Dad thinks he has to work 18 hours a day to support the family and in the process he is missing the family life he is working so hard for. Mom has two jobs to help out with the family income and the kids are running loose. And we can go on and on with other examples showing that doing things to the extreme just isn’t going to work.
Let’s all make it a point today to check on the balance in our lives – to see if we have all of our daily tasks divided up so all the bases are covered. Martha could have sat down for a few minutes and listened to Jesus. Mary could have gotten up and helped Mary for a while in getting the lunch prepared. Then they would have both been happy. Balance is a good thing to look for in our lives.
Monday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 19, Mt. 12: 38-42
Open my eyes, Lord, help me to see.
Open my ears, Lord, help me to hear your voice.
Open my heart, Lord, help me to love.
Yes, Lord, open my eyes, ears, and heart and help me to have faith,
to truly believe that you are the Son of God.
In our Gospel for today the Pharisees ask Jesus for signs and yet their eyes, ears and hearts were closed to the many signs Jesus had already given them: the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk and the dead rise to life. All the miracles of Jesus were signs of who he was and yet all of this did not lead to faith and trust in the Pharisees.
Many of us have had wonderful, miraculous things happen in our own lives and still we doubt, still we have but little faith and trust. How can this be?
Let us pray today the words of the man in the Gospel who asks Jesus to cure his son: Yes, Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.
Tuesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 20, Mt. 12: 46-50
“Here are my mother and my brothers. For whosoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
Today’s Gospel message deals with our relationship with God. We have spoken of this a number of times before. We are the Father’s adopted daughters and sons. He has told us this. And our relationship with God is to be an intimate relationship and it will not be truly intimate until we do his will for us. We have seen before in these homilies that one of the criteria for a more intimate relationship is a willingness, a desire, to change for the one with whom I seek intimacy.
What do I need to be willing to have God change in me that would bring a more intimate relationship? This is a good question for all of us to ask ourselves today.
Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 21, Mt. 13: 1-9
I believe that by this time each of us has read today’s Gospel parable of the sower, the seed and the soil many times. We usually put the focus on the soil, hoping we are, or will be, able to become fertile soil that produces great fruit. We can, however, look at this parable from the other points of view. The sower is usually thought to be Jesus who sows the seed (his word, his grace) on every type of ground, offering his gift to everyone regardless if they accept it or not. It is there for the taking by everyone.
The seed in the parable is the word or grace of God and we hope it will bring forth a bountiful harvest. We read in Isaiah, c. 55, v. 11: “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will achieving the end for which I sent it.” So, even if we do not hear God’s word, it will still accomplish its purpose.
I have read where a good harvest produces up to ten-fold. A harvest that produces 100 or 60 or 30 fold is out of sight for the farmer. Yet, this is the greatness of the yield of the word of God. It will be unimaginable here on earth and will even exceed that in the ages to come.
This parable reminds me of the power of the word of God, far beyond what we can even imagine. We are urged to keep on spreading this word and leave the harvest to Jesus.
Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 22, St. Mary Magdelene
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Mary Magdelene. She was given the name Magdelon because even though she was Jewish she lived in a Gentile town named Magdele in northern Galilee. St. Luke tells us she was a notorious sinner and had seven devils removed from her. She was present at Jesus’ crucifixion and at the empty tomb after his resurrection.
Then the story gets rather wild. Legend has it that 14 years after the death of Jesus, she was set adrift in a boat by the Jews and ended up in southern France where she spent the rest of her life as a contemplative in a cave known as Sainte-Baume. She was given daily Eucharist by an angel as her only food and died when she was 72.
Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 23, Mt. 13: 18-23
Today’s Scripture interprets for us the parable of the Sower we read on Wednesday. The question we usually ask ourselves when we focus on the soil in the parable is where do I find myself? I think honestly most of us would pick the soil with the thorns growing in it. People of this type hear the word of God but then other worries and concerns obscure the word, push it aside, and it doesn’t become effective in our lives. It never reaches our hearts. God’s word kind of gets lost in the shuffle, as we say.
How do I tend to be like thorny soil in receiving the word of God?
Saturday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 24, Mt. 13: 24-30
We began this week last Sunday with the story from Luke’s Gospel about Martha and Mary. This story is found in c. 10, vs. 38-42 in Luke’s Gospel. It has a definite purpose, as we have indicated before in these homilies, for being in this particular place in the Scriptures. Just above, in c. 10, v. 25, we have the presentation of the Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
The story of Martha and Mary is then presented after the parable of the Good Samaritan to help interpret for us the Greatest Commandment. How do we love God with all our heart, being, strength and mind? By doing as Mary did when Jesus came to lunch at the home of Martha and Mary; by listening to the word of the Lord with all the focus and concentration and attention she could muster. This is how we love God with all our heart, being, strength and mind.
And because we do not always hear the word of God with such attention and concentration, there is still evil in the world, which is the topic of today’s Gospel story of the weeds that look just like the wheat and is being sown in the wheat field along side the wheat. It’s as simple as that, really. We either listen and do or we do not listen and do not do.
Let’s ask ourselves just how well we listen to the word of God.