“A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
‘What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward.’
The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes.’
He called in his master’s debtors one by one.
To the first he said,
‘How much do you owe my master?’
He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’
He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’
Then to another the steward said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’
He replied, ‘One hundred kors of wheat.’
The steward said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty.’
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
“For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
Sometimes when we look at our lives, we can get very discouraged. We are very aware of our failings and weaknesses. We are aware of continuing to struggle with personal issues that have dogged us for years. If we focus too much on what is wrong in our lives, we can fail to see what is good there. We are often much more alert to criticism than to praise. Even in our weakest moments, there remains much good in every one of us. We are all a mixture of the good and the not so good. In one of Jesus’ parables he speaks of a field of wheat with weeds through it. In the story, the farmer rejects the labourer’s suggestion to pull up the weeds straight away. The farmer was more patient; he knew that if the weeds were pulled up some of the wheat would be pulled up too. He ordered that both be let grow until harvest time. Being too focused on getting rid of what is not right in our lives can damage what is good there.
The Lord knows that we are all a work in progress. He has begun a good work in us but he has yet to bring it to completion. We are all a mixture of the good and the not so good, but with the Lord’s help the good can ultimately prevail. The main character in the parable in today’s gospel reading seems to have left a lot to be desired. He was the chief steward of a very rich man and over time he had been wasteful with the rich man’s property. The rich man felt that he had no option but to fire him. He couldn’t live with his steward’s dishonesty indefinitely. When the steward discovered he was shortly to be fired he found himself in a crisis. It could be said that he was getting what he deserved. He had been acting dishonestly to benefit himself, cheating on his rich employer. Yet, there was more to this steward than his dishonesty. In this moment of crisis, he recognized that the good will of others was more important than possessions and wealth. He acted in a way to secure the good will of the tenants who worked on the rich man’s land. He reduced the debt they owed to the rich man. Perhaps he was foregoing the cut that he was taking for himself. Now that he was being fired, he would have the good will of the tenants who might take him into their home until he found his feet again. Even the rich man had to praise his steward’s cleverness. There was something positive about this man after all. It took a personal crisis to make him realize that he needed the support and the friendship of others to survive in life. He came to see that life wasn’t just about taking for himself. Life was also about giving, and making connections with others through the giving. When the steward was at his lowest, when everything had been taken from him, he began to see more clearly what really mattered. When he had lost everything, he began to take a turn for the better. It sometimes takes a crisis to bring to life the good that has been lying dormant within us.
The steward behaved generously towards the tenants of the rich man because he came to realize late in the day that he was dependent on them. In this time of crisis he would need some of them to welcome him into their homes. We all need people to be supportive of us, especially in moments of crisis in our lives, when we sense our vulnerability and frailty. We are not completely independent agents; we depend on one another in various ways. We are completely dependent on others at the beginning of life. Without the loving support of some adult, we wouldn’t survive as babies. We are often completely dependent on others at the end of our lives. Without the loving support of family, friends, carers, medical staff, our final weeks and months would be so much more difficult. What is true of the beginning and end of our lives is also true, to a lesser extent, of our lives in between. We depend on others and others depend on us. We have much to give to others, and much to receive from others. In the gospel reading, Jesus calls on us to give of our financial resources to serve the wellbeing of others, ‘use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends’. Many people’s financial resources are very limited at present. Yet, there remains much we can give to other, such as, our time, our energy, our gifts, our presence, our prayers. In the second reading, Saint Paul calls on the members of the church to pray for those in authority. Even those in authority are dependent on those they govern, especially on their prayers. We need to pray for ourselves and for each other because it is the Lord on whom we all depend the most.
Lord of all, help me to keep You as the one and only Master of my life. Give me the grace I need to detach from all that is of this world, so as to live for You and in accord with Your will alone. I love You, dear Lord. Help me to love You above all else. Jesus, I trust in You.
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them he addressed this parable.
“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.
“Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbours
and says to them,
‘Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.’
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents.”
What a foolish and arrogant thing to say! Jesus was merciful, welcoming, forgiving and loving to those who were sinners. And the Pharisees and scribes complained about this as if Jesus were doing something wrong.
On one level, it is understandable that the pride-filled scribes and Pharisees would look for anything they could to condemn Jesus. They were on a sort of “witch hunt,” so to speak, seeking to find any fault they could with our Lord. So, out of the fullness of their malice, they attempted to make it look like Jesus was an awful sinner due to the fact that He spent time with sinners and welcomed them.
From a perspective of the pure truth, however, the jealousy, envy, manipulation and deception of the scribes and Pharisees are clear. The “condemnation” they uttered against Jesus was no true condemnation at all. It was a fabrication and a twisting of the truth. The truth is that Jesus’ kindness to those who were sinners was a living out of His countless virtues. He was understanding, merciful, compassionate, patient, forgiving and the like. He saw troubled hearts and reached out to them in their need, especially when He could tell they were sorry, open and humble.
We may all encounter those who are religiously “self-righteous” at times. This is an ugly sin and one that should not sit well with us. The problem is that those who are self-righteous are oftentimes also intimidating and oppressive. Those who condemn others in the name of God are hard to confront. Jesus’ initial response was to ignore them and to go about His ministry of love and compassion, telling parables and helping those in need. But eventually He took these religious leaders on directly, condemning them for their pride and arrogance.
Reflect, today, upon any tendency you have in your heart to judge another, especially when you try to do so in the name of God. If you struggle with self-righteousness and pride, humble yourself now so that our Lord will not eventually be compelled to issue forth His justice on you!
My most righteous Lord, please have mercy upon me and heal me of my sins. Free me from all tendencies toward judgmentalness and help me, in imitation of You, to love and welcome the sinner in my midst so that I, as a sinner, will be welcomed by You. Jesus, I trust in You.
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”
We know from our experience that before any significant undertaking, we need to sit down and think through what will be required of us. Before we act, we need to reflect, not just on our own but with others. That is the message of the two small parables that Jesus speaks in today’s gospel reading. Before building a tower on his land, the landowner has first to sit down and work out the cost. Before marching to war, a king has to first sit down and work out whether he has the soldiers necessary for victory.
The enterprise that Jesus was referring to in today’s gospel reading is that of becoming his disciple. He was talking to the great crowds who were accompanying him. Jesus obviously wanted disciples from that great crowd but he also wanted people to know what was involved in becoming his disciple. It would require giving Jesus an allegiance that is even stronger that the allegiance we would naturally give to our families. That is what Jesus means by that language which seems very strange to our ears about hating family members. It is a Semitic way of expressing preference. Jesus was saying, ‘You are to prefer me to even the most significant people in your life’.
He goes on to say that if we are to love him even more than family we are certainly to love him more than our possessions. Attachment to him comes before attachment to family and possessions. So, Jesus is saying to the people around him that, in the light of what is involved, they need to sit down and reflect whether or not they really want to be his disciples. Becoming his disciple is not to be undertaken lightly. The message of the two parables is ‘don’t start if you cannot finish’.
Jesus wants disciples who will be faithful to him to the end, even though that may mean taking the way of the cross with him.
We live in a time when we need to make a deliberate and informed choice to be a follower of the Lord today. We are no longer being carried by a tide that is moving in the broad direction of the gospel that Jesus preached.
Instead, there can be a great deal of pressure to take a path different to the one that Jesus is calling us to take (some of it subtle pressure and some of it not so subtle).
In choosing to belong to the community of the Lord’s disciples, we are more likely to find ourselves at odds with family members and friends than would have been the case in the past. Belonging to the family of the Lord’s disciples today requires more of a conscious decision on our part. It requires a conscious effort to follow the Lord.
In the language of today’s first reading, we seek to ‘know the intentions of God’, to ‘divine the will of the Lord’, to ‘discover what is in the heavens’.
Luke 14:1, 7–14
On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honour at the table. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honour. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbours, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
When we have a meal with others, it tends to be with members of our family, or with members of our community, or with friends. We rarely eat with total strangers.
Yet, Jesus shared table not alone with is friends and disciples; he shared his table with people he didn’t know, people he had little in common with. He shared table with Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector, who had a reputation for taking more money from people than he was entitled to. Jesus shared table on a regular basis with ‘tax collectors and sinners’. The more religious people, like the Pharisees, were scandalized by this and criticized Jesus for it. Yet, Jesus also shared table with his critics, people like the Pharisees. That is what we find him doing in today’s gospel reading. On the Sabbath day, he went for a meal to the house of one of the leading Pharisees, who was very suspicious of Jesus. Why did Jesus share table with such a wide range of people? He was revealing something about God. He was making present the hospitality of God, which embraced everyone, those who were considered religious and those who were made to feel sinners, those who were disciples of Jesus and those who had rejected Jesus.
Lord, when I perceive Your presence in my life, give me the courage I need to respond. May I never let societal pressures or pride interfere with my turning to You. I love You, dear Lord. Help me to love You without reserve. Jesus, I trust in You.
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”
To enter by a narrow door requires a certain amount of concentration, whereas we can sail through a wide door or gate without even noticing it. On the way into a big football game, such as into Croke Park or customs in an Airport, you generally have to go through narrow gates or styles. People have to get in line and concentrate a little. Once a football match is over, the wide main gates are opened and people sail through without any effort at all. The same numbers of people go through the narrow doors beforehand as come out the main gates afterwards. However, the narrow door requires people to be focused in a way that the main gate does not. Therefore we must listen, concentrate and focus upon the word of God, in the hope of entering through the narrow door or gate leading to heaven. Each and every day, the words of the Gospel retain a message from the Lord above for us to concentrate and focus upon.
Reflect, today, upon that moment when you meet our Lord face to face. What will that encounter be like? Will it be one where He greets you with open arms saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your reward.” Or will it be one in which He says, “I do not know you.” Now is the time to face your life of faith with honesty, striving to rely only upon the strength of our divine Lord.
Lord, I do desire to enter the narrow gate. I choose to follow Your gentle voice, leading me to Heaven. Help me to remain humble in life, shedding all that leads me to rely upon myself. May I rely only upon You, dear Lord, and trust You in all things. Jesus, I trust in You
Gospel – 14th August 2022
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
This passage reveals two things to us. First, it reveals Jesus’ intention to “set the earth on fire.” Second, it reveals that He desires “it were already blazing.”
What does it mean when Jesus says that He came to set the world on fire? Fire is a powerful image that offers much insight into the Christian life. First, fire consumes. So it is with Christ. He came to consume us. He came to transform our little lives into blazing fires. This reveals that there is much potential in each one of our lives. We have potential to become something totally new if we allow the spark of grace to ignite our souls.
Fire also has the potential to make a difference. Its heat keeps us warm, its light allows us to see in darkness and its energy produces power in various ways to help us in our daily lives. So it is with grace. God’s grace transforms our cold hearts, leads us through the darkness of life and provides us with all we need to live productive lives.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus did not only say that He came to set the world on fire; rather, He said that He wished it were already blazing. This desire of our Lord is an invitation to move out of a mediocre and lukewarm existence into a life of radical Christian living. We are not called to be partly transformed, or even mostly transformed. No, we are called to become blazing fires of faith, transformed by God to make a true difference in the world!
Reflect, today, upon the fire within your own soul. How brightly is that fire burning? You need to feed that fire on a daily basis, fanning it into flame with complete commitment. Seek to become that blazing fire that the Lord desires of you and you will be amazed at how fully you can become transformed by grace.
Lord, set my heart on fire with the brightness of Your love and mercy. Help me to be open to the complete transformation of life that You desire of me. I give myself to You without reserve, dear Lord. Use me as You will. Jesus, I trust in You.
From Catholic Daily Reflections.com
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”
The making of a will is one of the important acts of adulthood. We can be rather reluctant to sit down and make our will. To do so is to acknowledge in a very concrete way that we are mortal, that one day we will leave our possessions to others. The author of the book of Qoheleth saw this as part of the meaninglessness of life – ‘a person who has laboured… must leave what is his own to someone who has not toiled for it at all’. Yet, there can be great meaning in the act of leaving what is our own to those who have not laboured for it. In making our will, we are deciding how our earthly possessions at the time of death will be divided and distributed. The decisions we make in regard to our will speak volumes about who and what we really value in life. We leave our possessions to the people and the causes that are most significant for us. Our will is a statement of our loves and passions, our values and interests.
When a will is not made or when it is unclear, trouble very often ensues, as family members attempt to interpret what the deceased person really intended. Non-family members can easily get drawn into the family quarrel. We don’t always welcome it when someone asks us to get involved in a family dispute. We probably sense that if we are not careful we could make matters worse. In the gospel reading, a man asks Jesus to take his side in a dispute he has with his brother over a family inheritance. Jesus was being asked, ‘Side with me against my brother’. There was another occasion when Jesus was asked to side with someone against a sister. Jesus was very friendly with Mary and Martha. Martha asked Jesus to side with her against her sister Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to him speaking. Martha felt that Mary had left her all alone to do the serving. Jesus did not take Martha’s side against Mary, but suggested that Martha had something to learn from Mary. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus did not take the man’s side against his brother in the dispute over the family inheritance. Instead, he gave the man a warning about greed, reminding him that we don’t find security in our possessions. It is not the case that the more we possess, the more secure our life is.
To show this, Jesus tells a story, a parable. Most of Jesus’ stories have several people in them. One of his great stories, the story of the prodigal son, has three people in it, the father and his two sons. The story of the Good Samaritan has five people in it, the man who was beaten up and left for dead, the priest, the Levite, the Samaritan and the inn keeper. However, the story Jesus tells in today’s gospel reading only has one person in it. This rich man doesn’t seem to interact with anyone. We don’t hear of other family members or neighbours or friends. He lives in his own world. When he speaks, he speaks to himself. He has been blessed with an unexpectedly rich harvest. His only thought is for himself. ‘Where am I going to store it all?’ The little word ‘my’ keeps cropping up in his conversation with himself, ‘my crops… my barns… my goods… my soul’. He lives for himself completely. It never occurs to him to ask, ‘How can I share my surplus with those who have nothing?’ It certainly never occurs to him to ask, ‘What would God want me to do with this huge surplus?’ God never comes into his thinking at all. However, in the story, God is present, even though the rich man has no awareness of God. The question that never occurred to the rich man was very important to God, ‘Who could benefit from this wonderful surplus that the earth has given?’ The rich man had forgotten that everything is a gift from God, including his very soul, his life. God now calls back his life, ‘This very night the demand will be made for your soul’. Where does the rich man stand at that moment? He is extremely rich in his possessions but he has not made himself rich in the sight of God. God looks at him and sees someone who is really very poor. He sees a life that has been wasted.
Jesus is saying to the man who wanted to involve him in a family dispute about inheritance that what really matters, at the end of the day, is to be rich in the sight of God. We find a very good example of someone who is rich in the sight of God in another of Jesus’ stories, the story of the Good Samaritan. He probably wasn’t a rich man, like the man in the story of today’s gospel reading, but he had some possessions. He had some money, he had oil and wine, he had a horse. More importantly, he had an eye for others, especially those in need. When he came upon the man who had been left half dead by robbers, he used his oil and wine, his horse and his money, to bring the half-dead man back to life. He became poorer so that someone else could become richer, richer in health and well-being. Whereas the rich man in today’s gospel reading invested in things, in bigger barns to store his abundant harvest, the Samaritan invested in people, in one particular broken human being that he came across by the roadside. The Samaritan used some of his possessions to serve others, because he recognized that everything was gift to be shared rather than private possessions to be hoarded. He was rich in the sight of God. The person who was supremely rich in the sight of God was Jesus. He had very little in the way of possessions; he had nowhere to lay his head. Yet, he gave everything he had, including his life, so that others would have life to the full. Jesus is the person we are all called to grow up into. He is our true treasure, his relationship with us and ours with him. As Paul says at the end of today’s second reading, ‘There is only Christ; he is everything and he is in everything’. It has been said that when we go before the Lord at the end of our lives we leave behind us everything we have and take with us everything we are and have become.
Take a minute to reflect on how other people see you. Does that image reflect what the Lord sees?
Are you happy if called by the Lord to him tomorrow , that you have carried out the Lords calling to the fullest of your abilities? Have you given your whole self for his cause?
Lord of true riches, help me to always keep my heart set on the riches You bestow and to never settle for those things that can never fully satisfy me. I desire the wealth of Heaven, dear Lord, not the riches of Earth. I desire to live my life to spread your word and entice people back to our Church. I pray for the strength of the Holy Spirit to help me speak your word, to those hurt and not accepting of the word of God at this time. Help me to live the spiritual poverty I am called to live so as to obtain all that You desire for me. Free me from stubbornness, self importance, greed and selfishness and help me to find true joy in Your holy will. Jesus, I trust in You.
Taken in large part from Fr. Martins daily homilies.
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.”
We all appreciate being made to feel welcome in a place. We find a good example of welcome in today’s first reading. Three men appeared near to the tent, the home, of Abraham and Sarah. Abraham immediately began to make them feel welcome. He gave them water to wash the dust off their feet, he asked Sarah to make three loaves, he asked his servant to prepare a calf for them to eat, and when all was ready he placed the meal before them which they ate under the shelter of a tree. It was actually the Lord who was coming to Abraham through these three visitors. Without realising it, Abraham and Sarah were offering hospitality to the Lord. The Lord continues to come to each one of us today through those who need our hospitality, our welcome.
We can show hospitality to people, we can make them feel welcome, in different ways. Sometimes showing hospitality to someone, welcoming them, involves some activity on our part. There may be a room to get ready, food to be bought and prepared. Certainly Abraham and Sarah sprang into action when the three visitors arrived on their doorstep. When Jesus came to the home of his friends Martha and Mary, it was Martha who sprang into action. It seems as if she set about preparing an elaborate meal for Jesus. This was her way of showing Jesus hospitality. Mary welcomed Jesus in a different way. She sat at his feet and listened to him speaking. She welcomed Jesus not by doing things for him but by listening to him. This can be a very important way of showing someone hospitality. They come to visit us and what they really want is a listening ear. If a cup of tea is served as well, all the better, but it isn’t really the cup of tea they have come for. Mary and Martha were showing Jesus hospitality in different ways, and both ways were very valid and appreciated by Jesus. However, Martha didn’t think much of Mary’s way of showing Jesus hospitality. She criticized her sister to Jesus, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the caring all by myself? Please tell her to help me’. Jesus responded to Martha with great affection, calling her twice by her personal name, ‘Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things’. It is as if Jesus was saying to her, ‘Don’t be worrying and fretting over me. I don’t expect anything elaborate’. Jesus also wanted Martha to appreciate that Mary’s way of showing him hospitality was very valid, ‘Mary has chosen the better part’. Perhaps, on this occasion, the kind of hospitality that Jesus wanted was a listening ear. He wanted a human presence, rather than all kinds of presents or gifts in the form of food of various kinds.
Mary may have been quicker to recognize that this was the kind of welcome that Jesus wanted at this time. There must have been other times when he was received into people’s homes and he had nothing much to say and a good meal was exactly what he wanted. We all have to learn what it is that love for someone requires of us at any particular moment. We need the sensitivity to know whether the loving thing to do is to roll up our sleeves and get to work on their behalf or just to sit and listen to them. There is a time for both. Do you remember last Sunday’s gospel reading? When the Samaritan came upon the broken traveller, it was definitely the time to spring into action. After all, the man by the roadside was half-dead. The story of Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha’s home comes immediately after that parable of the Good Samaritan in the gospel of Luke. Perhaps it is showing us another form of service, the service of listening, of paying attention, of being present. It seems as if it was the hospitality of presence that Jesus valued most on this occasion.
Both sisters, Mary and Martha, are venerated as saints in the church. There are times when we need to be Mary for others, and times when we need to be Martha for them. That is true of our relationship with the Lord as well. There are times when we need to sit and listen to his word, just to be present to him, and then there are times when we need to work on his behalf, allowing him to serve others in a very practical way through us. If from time to time we are prayerfully present to him, sitting at his feet listening to him, like Mary, then there is a better chance that we will serve others in the way the Lord wants them to be served.
From Fr. Martin Hogan, Daily Homilies and reflections
Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” John 15:20
Do you want to be like Jesus? If so, beware of what that means. It’s easy to think that the closer we grow to Christ the more we will be loved and understood by the world. We can think that everyone will see our holiness and admire it and all will be good and easy in life.
But all we have to do is look at the life of Christ to know this is not the case. He was obviously perfect in every way. As a result, He was treated with great malice and persecution. In the dark of the night, He was arrested, given a mock trial, found guilty and sentenced to death. His punishment was then carried out immediately.
Why did they do this to the Son of God? Why would someone so perfect and merciful in every way be so cruelly treated?
If we were there, as His first followers, we would have most likely been shocked, frightened, scandalized and confused. We may have thought that Jesus messed up and lost hope in Him. But His plan was perfect in every way and His plan did centrally involve Him enduring false accusations and malicious persecution. And by freely accepting this abuse, He redeemed the world.
So back to the original question, “Do you want to be like Jesus?” This is a tough question when we look at it in the light of what happened to Him. “No slave is greater than his master.” “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” These are tough sayings to accept and agree to.
Persecution is something from which we should not run. We should not despair if it happens and we should not hold our head low. Why? Because persecution is a clear sign that we are following in the footsteps of our Master. We are more deeply united to Christ as a result of persecution than we could ever realize.
The key is to know that God intends to use all maltreatment for good if we let Him. And we let Him use it for good when we surrender it to Him and receive it freely, not begrudgingly. Our response must be to “rejoice and be glad” that we have been found worthy to follow in the steps of our Divine Lord.
Ponder today any form of persecution or injustice you suffer for the sake of your faith and embrace of the Gospel. The Lord wants to use that if you let Him.
Today more than ever, It takes courage to be associated with your Church. It takes courage to go up on the altar and read. It takes courage to be involved in the mass ceremony. It takes courage to speak to others in a positive light about God, about our Priests and religious. It takes courage to speak to our children about God and pray with them. Everytime you do these things, the Lord sees and he will reward you on the last day.
My persecuted Lord, I do surrender to You all that weighs me down. I give any suffering I receive for being Your follower. May I not only imitate You in Your suffering, but also in Your willing embrace of it. Jesus, I trust in You.