Living in the presence of the Lord
By Sharon Priester
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time/July 17
Genesis 18:1-10a; Psalm 15:2-3,3-4,5; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke 10:38-42
In the Gospel reading last week, a scholar asked Jesus what he must do “to inherit eternal life.” (Luke 10:25) Jesus asked him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26) The scholar replied, “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.” (Luke 10:28) Seems very simple. Each and every day, we have many opportunities to do just this.
This week’s readings give us several examples of hospitable people who share their love of God, each in his or her own way. Abraham certainly demonstrates his love of God and others. When he sees three men standing outside his tent in the hot sun, he quickly invites them to come and rest in the shade of a tree. He also asks if he can bring them some food before they go on their way. The travelers accept the invitation and Abraham rushes off to tell Sarah, his wife, to prepare some food for these weary sojourners, picks out a choice steer for them to eat and waits on them without fussing or complaining.
The Gospel tells us how Jesus enters a village and is welcomed by a woman named Martha, a woman who lives an active life laboring to honor Christ through her work. She invites Him to her home, where the neighbors had gathered. Among the people there was Martha’s sister, Mary. When Jesus arrives, Mary sits at His feet wanting to listen intently. Meanwhile, Martha is rushing here and there, trying to prepare things for this special guest. No one, not even her sister, helps her. Martha, annoyed, asks Jesus to tell Mary that she needed to help Martha.
What does Jesus do? Does he go and reprimand Mary? Not at all. Instead Jesus turns to Martha and says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need for only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part” (listening to Jesus) “and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:42)
In the second reading, Paul is speaking to the people about his role as a disciple of Christ. He begins by telling them that he rejoices in his suffering for others and that each person has been called by Christ to take up their cross, carry it, make sacrifices for others, and proclaim the Gospel to others. It is only through this effort that the Gentiles will come to an understanding of the mystery of Christ and His plan for our salvation and become a follower of Christ like Paul.
DIFFERENT APPROACHES, SAME GOAL
Abraham, Martha, Mary and Paul each welcomed people, were hospitable, and desired to serve others, and to share the love of God with them. Abraham quickly gets things moving and asks his wife to help. Martha and Mary welcomed the Lord, but in different ways. Martha had a more active approach, busily laboring to honor Christ through her work. Mary, being more contemplative, sits, listens and learns from Christ. Paul, a disciple of the Lord, encourages others to also take up their cross and carry it, making sacrifices for others, just as Christ did. All had the desire to unite the faithful more firmly with God.
Most likely, you are different than Abraham, Sarah, Martha, Mary or Paul. However, you too are guided by God in your journey of faith. What is important is that we recognize Christ in others and welcome them. Instead of scurrying around, welcome, listen and share the Word with others. You don’t have to worry. All the fine points of hospitality will be taken care of.
As is said in Psalm 15, “He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.” He is the one “who thinks the truth in his heart,” “harms not his fellow man,” “lends not his money at usury.”
Let each one of us be that person “who does justice,” living in the presence of the Lord.
SHARON PRIESTER has served as a parish catechist and director of religious education, Bible study leader, RCIA team member and coordinator, and regional director of religious education for the Diocese of Peoria. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.