Martha, you worry and fret about so many things - Mary has chosen better

Homily for the Sixteenth Sunday of Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

“Twins, a sister and brother were talking to each other in the womb. The little sister said to the little brother, ‘I believe that there is life after birth!’ Her brother protested: ‘No, no, this is all there is. This is a dark and cozy place, and we have nothing else to do but to cling on to the cord that feeds us.’ But the little girl insisted: ‘There must be something more than this dark place, there must be something else where there is light and freedom to move.’ Still she could not convince her twin brother. Then...after some silence, she said hesitantly: ‘I have something else to say, and I am afraid you won’t believe that either, but I think there is a mother!’ Her little brother now became furious: ‘A mother, a mother, what are you talking about? I have never seen a mother and neither have you. Who put that idea in your head? As I told you, this place is all we have so let’s be content.’ The little sister finally said: ‘Don’t you feel this pressure sometimes? Its really unpleasant and sometimes even painful.’ ‘Yes,’ he answered, ‘what’s special about that?’ ‘Well,’ the sister said, ‘I think this pressure is there to get us ready for another place, much more beautiful than this, where we will see our mother face to face! Don’t you think that’s exciting!” (Unfortunately I do not know the source.)

In that story the little twin brother did not think of life beyond the present while the little twin sister looked forward to another life beyond the present. Jesus came so that we would look beyond the present life to eternal life and prepare ourselves here for eternal life with God. Martha in today’s Gospel (Luke 10:38-42) learned from Jesus that she did not have her priorities in order and Jesus challenged her to get her priorities in order. She was so busy she did not have time for Jesus,

“Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part and it shall not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

So we are to get our priorities in order, first things first, and God comes first of all. Getting our priorities in order means making time for Jesus, time for God, time for Our Lady. We are to look beyond the present and remember that we came from dust and will return to dust (Gen 3:19). On another occasion Jesus said, “Seek the kingdom of God first and all these other things will be given you as well.” (Matt 6:33) So let us put God first. St. John in his first letter reminds us also of the glorious future ahead of us,

“we are already children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.” (1 John 3:2)

Remember every day that you are God’s beloved child and that God has a glorious future for you. If we don’t have time for God we are like a train that has become derailed, and a train that has become derailed goes nowhere. In fact, if we don’t make space for God we will be unhappy and we will try to fill that unhappiness with all sorts of things and pleasures that will never fill that unhappiness because only God can fill the deep longing of our hearts. St. Augustine expressed it beautifully when he wrote, “You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” So rest in God. In fact I believe that we are called to pray for not just some minutes every day but for some hours every day. If we are free it would be beautiful celebrate the Eucharist every day and it is good to see many people coming to Mass here every day. Many people listen to Rosary CDs or tapes when they are driving or listen to hymns. What a difference between listening to hymns and listening to heavy rock music. Hymns uplift and soothe. If you are watching TV all the time or listening to the radio all the time it will fill your mind with all sorts of “stuff” that will pull you away from God. In fact everything we do is either lifting us up to God or pulling us away from God. Our call is to rise up beyond the distractions of life to God. “Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part and it shall not be taken from her.” Priests and religious go on retreat every year, spending some days with the Lord. In recent years I have noticed and increasing number of lay people also going on retreat or on pilgrimage. When you book your holidays would you like to consider going on holidays with the Lord by going on retreat or pilgrimage?

In the story about the twins in the womb the little twin brother did not think of life beyond the present while the little twin sister looked forward to another life beyond the present. Jesus came so that we would look beyond the present life to eternal life and prepare ourselves here for eternal life with God.

“Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part and it shall not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

“You have made us for yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Sixteenth Sunday Year C

Martha, Mary and Prayer

Slow Down to Enjoy Life and Spend Time with Jesus

Do we give God time and space in our lives every day or are we too busy? 2007

Mary at the feet of Jesus - Consecrated Contemplative Life 2010

Homilies on listening to the Word of God:

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They have the Scriptures, let them listen to them!

Second Reading: The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering 2008

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