Gospel for Sunday the 21st of July 2019
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Luke 10: 38-42
In our Gospel today we find Jesus in the house of Martha with Martha’s sister Mary also present. The Gospel tells us that “Martha welcomed Him into her house”. This is a great thing, to welcome Jesus into your house. We can think of a house as a physical building but another way to see this is the house of our hearts. Jesus really wants to be welcomed there more than anywhere else. It is said, a house doesn’t make a home. The more deeply we welcome Jesus into the house of our hearts will our hearts become a home, a place where Jesus finds rest in us and we in Him.
So, in welcoming Jesus into the house of our hearts our real desire is that we become like Him and let Him be the Lord of our lives. The rate at which this happens very much depends on our attitude towards Jesus and our co-operation with His grace. The two sisters Martha and Mary, have both welcomed Jesus but have two very different attitudes towards Him. The three people in the Gospel, Jesus, Martha and Mary are in three physically different places. Jesus is seated while Martha is on her feet trying to serve and get things ready while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. The different physical heights of the sisters reflect the disposition of their hears.
Jesus is the Lord but from His seated position Martha is physically lording over Him as she walks around trying to serve. This physical lording over Jesus reflects her heart and how many of us do this? We welcome Jesus into the heart of our house but at the same time we want to lord over our lives instead of surrendering to Jesus’ Lordship. Jesus desires to Lord my life with His peace, yet I lord my life in stress. Jesus wants to Lord my life in His mercy, yet I lord my life in unforgiveness. Jesus wants to Lord my life with His will and yet I am determined to carry out my own and I convince myself that this is ok because I am doing it for the Lord just as Martha was doing all the serving for Jesus. The result of this is frustration. When we go our own way, lording over our own lives and things aren’t working out we cry out to God in frustration as Martha did “Lord do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself, please tell her to help me”. In other words, Martha is asking Jesus to change His will to bless her self-will.
From this comes the beautiful response of Jesus; “Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things and yet few are needed, indeed only one”. What is this one thing that is necessary? This one thing that is necessary is what the very nature of God is, what the language of Heaven is, and the only thing necessary in all our actions as followers of Jesus, and that is love. God is love, the language of Heaven is love and in Jesus, God becomes man to teach us the language of Heaven and how to live self- sacrificial love, love which always desires the best for the other. It is this language of love that Mary is learning to speak.
If Martha physically lords over Jesus, then Mary is the opposite. She humbly sits at the feet of Jesus. By physically placing herself at the feet of Jesus she is saying that not only has she welcomed Jesus into the house of her heart but she desires to submit to his Lordship completely, to sit at His feet and learn the language of love as she listens to every word of the voice of love before her with perfect concentration. When Mary does serve like her sister she will not get frustrated like her sister because by sitting at the feet of Jesus she learns that it is not the success of our actions that count but the love that we do these actions with and from sitting with Jesus, love itself she relies on Him and is filled with love in abundance. Like Mary, who chose the better part, may we sit at the feet of Jesus in the Eucharist today and listen to His voice of love spoken to each one of us personally as He teaches us the language of love.
– Fr. Jaimie Twohig SAC