[16th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C July 17, 2016 Gen 18:1-10a / Ps 15:2-3a, 3b-4, 5 / Col 1:24-28 / Luke 10:38-42]
THERE was a famous song by a British comedian called Vic Reeves. One memorable line was, “I’m so busy, my head is spinning.” I think Martha in today’s gospel had that tune in her head (Luke 10:38-42). She was so busy preparing the food and serving the Lord. She was fighting with her sibling Mary and then complaining to Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” When we are very busy we should not forget the source of our strength and energy, God himself. When we lose that relationship with him, everything loses taste, even our work.
I remember once being assigned to cook dinner for my fellow missionaries. I decided to knock up a tasty soup. I found some chicken, some leftover vegetables and flung all the ingredients into a big pot. It was lacking salt, and after adding some, still it did not taste right, so I poured in the rest of the bag. Serving the soup the others commented that it was great but it lacked salt. I protested that I had put in half a bag. This caused some confusion as someone said that, actually, we had no salt in the house.
I checked the bag and it was not salt but ajinomoto, a type of MSG food additive. When there is no salt all is tasteless! The salt of our life is this love for Christ, our relationship with him. If we do not cultivate it we become atheists, that is, we live a life without God! And it becomes tasteless.
Abraham in today’s first reading cooks up a great dinner with his wife for the three guests who visit. Who are these three? They represent the divine presence. How was Abraham able to recognize the presence of God? Well, we find him at the entrance of his tent while the day was growing hot. What does it mean? It means he is not inside the tent, inside his comfort zone, but is watching and waiting for the Lord. What do we have to do to find God sometimes? Get out of our comfort zone and start looking!
Abraham was advanced in years in that moment so the calling is for all, every day to discover God’s presence in all the events and in the people we meet. How dour is life when a dimension of faith is lacking. There was a man sat at the bar, downcast. The barman asked him what’s up. The man explained that he had recently had a plane crash in Alaska. He was dying and called out to God to save him but no response. He yelled out louder but God ignored him. The barman said, “But you are still alive now?” and the man replied, “Yeah, because some goddamn Eskimo came along…”
Having Jesus in our lives gives us a bigger horizon, a big perspective and we see this in the life of St. Paul. He was a busy man, preaching, teaching, working as a tentmaker at times but he always relied on the Lord. In his busy-ness he never forgot the Lord and we see the fruits of his life today. In his struggles and difficulties because he, too, had challenges, had to deal with problems in the Christian communities but what a vision he had, he never lost sight of the bigger picture—“I rejoice in my sufferings because in them I am building up the Church” (Colossians 1:24-28).
The demands of human life are challenging. If we want to stay young and beautiful and not get tired we need to constantly recharge. Our cell phones get “low-batt” and so do our hearts. I remember after one mass in Singapore, a beautiful woman approached me to seek some beauty tips. “Doctor, I mean, Father, I heard in your homily that before you were a plastic surgeon. Can you give me some beauty tips?” I responded, “Well, I shouldn’t really give away any tricks of the trade but it all depends on the daily face cream you use.” She told me that everyday assiduously, she was using face cream with Vitamin C and D. I told her that this was a waste of time. What is best is Vitamin P.
“What is that, I have never heard of it. What is this Vitamin P that keeps you young and vivacious?” “Vitamin PRAYER!” I told her. A truly prayerful life is a very fruitful one.
Like the life of Abraham. He was 99 when God told him that his wife would give birth one year later. Our time spent with God is never wasted! It is always fruitful. How much more fruitful our busy-ness, and business, will be if the Lord is helping us. If the Lord does not help our business we end up involved in monkey business! But to grow in our relationship with the Lord, to see God working in our family, to experience his presence in the world of today we need training. In the gospel Mary shows us how—she was seated at the feet of the Lord listening to him speak.
This is the position of the disciple, to be seated at the feet of the Master, learning from him. To sit down in a retreat because we need time to listen. Jesus said that Mary has chosen the best thing. Martha was worried and troubled about so many things but Jesus reminded her that only one thing is needed—and that one thing is Christ. And Martha followed the advice of the Lord because now she is St. Martha!
Let us pray for the grace to persevere in our Christian life and calling, to constantly seek the face of the Lord and that our lives can be truly fruitful, like Saints Mary and Martha. Amen.