Gospel and Homily Notes by Archbishop Joseph Harris, C.S. Sp
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
Many years ago, when I told my father that I wanted to become a priest, he asked me a very simple question, Have you prayed about this? On the service the question seems simple enough but as I have grown older and I hope wiser I have realized that there was much more to the question than I first understood.
It is possible to be in the presence of someone and not know them. It has often happened to me as a priest that I have been invited to homes for a meal. It happens quite frequently that those who invite me leave me looking at a TV show or with the little children while they finish preparing the meal, or the husband sits with me and chats while the wife prepares the meal. The result is that after the meal I leave not having come to know to any greater depth the persons who invited me.
This is the one of the lessons of the Gospel story that we have for our meditation. Jesus is welcomed to the house of Martha and Mary. As a good hospitable person, Martha sets about to prepare a good meal for her important guest. Mary sits with Jesus. Martha complains to Jesus. She is doing all the work. Jesus comments on the situation. Mary is doing the better thing. She is spending time with Jesus, she is getting to know him. Martha must prepare something very simple and join Mary in getting to know Jesus better. This is extremely important because unless we are more than acquaintances, we do not really know the likes and dislikes of others, we do not know what they want or what they would like us to do.
So often in life, out of the goodness of our hearts we do things for others that they do not accept or want. And we get upset but we often do these things without knowing what the others really want. At other times we may ask the husband or wife of a friend, what that friend would really like, and because the husband or wife really knows his/her spouse, they are able to tell us just what the other would like. The same principle works in our relationship with almighty God. When we spend time with God, and in the measure that we get to know God in that measure we know what God wants of us. That is in fact the witness of all the saints, our heroes in the faith. So often in the face of opposition from church authorities, they insisted in doing what they knew to be God’s will. And they did great things, and simple things but they always did what God wanted because they knew God. Their activity flowed out of their knowledge of God. This was the significance of the question posed to me by my Father. Did I know God enough to know what God wanted of me?
This we have to apply to our lives. Most of us are generous people. Most of us want to help others but very often our help is not appropriate because we have not taken the time to get to know those whom we may want to help. I have discovered in life that what people appreciate most is our friendship. In other words they want us to consider them friends, and they never reject what comes to them out of and because of our friendship. As Jesus said to Martha, friendship, getting to know and accept others as they are, is the better part.
All powerful and ever-loving God, to know You is wisdom and to love You is to find our fulfillment. Give us the grace to know you so that we may fulfill your will and one day live with You for all eternity. We ask this through the intercession of Mary, our mother and Jesus your Son. Amen