When I woke up this morning all I had been thinking and praying regarding today’s readings came together. I had it. Then I read the Holy Father’s Angelus message. He beat me to it. So, today my few words really simply echo the Holy Father. This might mean they both sprung – at least I hope – from the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Remember that every Sunday Luke presents Jesus on a journey to his destiny. And his words and his experiences all teach us something about our own destiny which Jesus is making possible for us as we too journey in our own lives together.
Two sisters, his friends, receive the Lord each in her own way. That is fine but one gets exasperated with the other. Instead of calling Mary into the kitchen, Martha decides to get Jesus involved in this family tension. For the moment she forgets that Jesus is their guest who not only should be fed and made comfortable, HE SHOULD BE WELCOMED AND LISTENED TO! Without prejudice to Martha, Mary has chosen the better part. She shows him that she values him in his own person; his experiences, his insights, his need to be listened to and to be respected as a person.
You may say yes but do not forget this is no everyday visitor. It is Jesus and that is why Mary is listening to him. True enough. But let’s for a moment ask ourselves how we approach Jesus as our Lord and Savior. When we pray, we rightly bring to God, to His Son our Savior, to Mary and St Agnes and the saints our needs and our hopes, our worries and our cares which we should. But do we ever stop and let God speak to us? Do we ever sit in the quiet of the Church or in a corner of our room and let his spirit of love descend into our hearts, let his message of love and consolation silently and quietly enter into our lives. Remember the old story of the Irish lady who used to sit in Church but never seemed to be saying her prayers. When asked, she replied “I just look at Him and he just looks at me”. The quiet prayer of silence with our hearts simply open to God brings us gifts beyond our own capabilities.
My friends, we all know we live in a world of cacophony. Sadly so much of it is news of violence, fighting, destruction and reckless or intended taking of human life. But even at home and with our neighbors, there is a lot of noise and not always much listening, true listening to the other. Do you take the time to listen to your spouse? Do you have an attentive ear to catch the sense of worry or of joy when someone comes to you or me with “news” or questions? Are you, young people, so tied up into your iphones and facebooks and instagrams that a real person cannot intrude into your territory, one who may be a friend in need, an adult who merits a hearing, a grandparent you may think is “boring”?
Today we have two examples of hospitality before us. Abraham who offered the best he had and listened to the message. That message assured him that God was about to fulfill God’s promise that He would soon be the Father of us all. And then Martha and Mary, each in her own way, fulfilling the great gift of hospitality, welcoming the pilgrim and honoring the pilgrim as worthy of our attention and our care. Pope Francis tells us today in his usual concrete manner, Hospitality is one of the works of mercy, a human and a Christian virtue…Demonstrate it in your lives by welcoming one another as being welcomed into family and not as someone who has been placed into a temporary hospital recovery room.
One of the marks of Christian communities from the very beginning of the Church has been an openness to listen within the context of hospitality toward all men and women of good will. When Paul went to bring the message of Christ to the people of Colossae, they listened to him. His words brought them to accept the truth of Jesus Christ. They welcomed him and his words changed their lives. We may not have Paul with us today in the flesh. But we do have his Words and the message of Jesus, His Lord and ours, in our hearts. And as we welcome one another as well as the stranger and the newcomer, we may well find that the Christ is present as well. He surely is ready to help us treat one another as Jesus was treated by Martha and Mary. And as we welcome one another, listen to one another and find Christ in one another, we will be able the better to support one another on our shared journeys, following Christ who brings us to our true destiny, life and life eternal. Amen