SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
(Green) Cycle C/Year II (July 17, 2016)
Gn 18:1-10/ Col 1:24-28/Lk 10:38-42
When Jesus visited the sisters of Lazarus, only Martha was busy preparing things for the Lord. Mary was there at the feet of Jesus, listening to the words of the Lord. Martha complained to Jesus asking Him to tell Mary to help her. But then Jesus told Martha: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing” (Lk 10:41-42).
In Christianity, Martha and Mary are symbols of two kinds of Christian lives: active and contemplative. Martha was active, busying herself with the material and spiritual needs of the earthly existence. This kind of life is the life of the diocesan priests and religious priests, brothers and sisters who are assigned to minister to the pastoral needs of the flock of Jesus. Mary, on the other hand, is contemplative, busying herself with the purely spiritual needs of Christian life. This is the kind of life of the monks and the monastery sisters who spent the whole day, praying and working inside the monastery.
As Christians, we need both active and contemplative life. We cannot simply concern ourselves with material things without giving importance to our spiritual life. Neither can we simply focus on spiritual matters without attending to our material needs. We need to be both active and contemplative in our day to day life. We have to work to address our material needs and we also have to pray and do spiritual activities to address our spiritual needs.
Moreover, we must be reminded by the words of Jesus to Martha: “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.” Indeed, we may be worried about a lot of things, with our daily concerns of life, but there is only one essential thing: our eternal salvation. While material things can be lost, eternal salvation, once acquired can never be lost. Earthly life is passing but heavenly life is eternal. Consequently, it is much more rewarding to focus on the things that will last. Otherwise, if we focus on earthly matters, we may lose our goal: eternal salvation. Thus, we have to focus on heavenly things and use our earthly existence to gain such eternal salvation.
But how can we gain eternal life? The words of Jesus to Martha remind us of the truth that only by listening to the words of Jesus and living His message can we acquire everlasting life. To listen does not simply mean to hear the words of Jesus; it most especially means to ponder on the words of Jesus and to discern His message and will for us. It also means to hear in order to obey. Moreover, Jesus Christ does not want us to worry. God loves us and He is ready to help us in our daily need. He only wants us to talk to Him and to ask Him the favors we need, then He will certainly give them to us. Christ does not want us to worry about our earthly concerns; rather He wants us to only worry about one thing: our eternal salvation. He wants that we may focus our earthly existence on the achievement of such one goal of every Christian: eternal life.