Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, 17th July 2022

Luke 10:38–42

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."


This story concerning Mary and Martha has often been used by spiritual writers to prove the superiority of the contemplative life over the active pastoral form of life. The more correct lesson which the story of Mary and Martha seems to have is that we must not let the affairs of this life, innocent though they be in themselves, prevent us from attending primarily to the one affair that really matters our future life.

The emphasis then is on Martha rather than on Mary. In her over-excitement to prove herself a kind and true hostess, she bent all her energies to preparing an excellent meal. She had no time to listen to the Master’s words of divine wisdom. The work she was doing was excellent and faultless in itself. She need not and should not have excluded learning from Jesus’ teaching while doing that good work.

Like Martha, many good Christians are anxious and upset about many earthly concerns. These concerns are necessary. This we know. A man must earn his daily bread; a wife must look after the family. This is what God himself expects us to do. What we need not and must not do is to forget or exclude God in the process.

Our daily tasks, whether in the office, workshop, or home, are prayers that are honouring God and thanking him for the many gifts of mind and body that he has given us. If we offer them to him and do them with this intention, they are indeed perfect prayers.

This is where so many fail. They spend days, months, may be years, intent solely on their earthly tasks, without a thought for their future fate in the life that is to come. Yet a truly profitable Christian life is so easy for the vast majority of true Christians. A short morning prayer can be said while dressing. Thus we offer to God the day with all its joys and sorrows, all its trials and tests. It will mean that the day is registered to our account in the Book of Life. A few moments of thought for God and his goodness every now and then during the day will help immensely to keep our morning offering alive and active. A few moments on one’s knees beside the bed before retiring to rest, thanking God for the day he has given us, and asking pardon for the faults committed, is not too difficult for anyone.

A day such as this is a day spent in the service of God, such as will ensure a happy future when our last day comes. Mass and Holy Communion will round out each week for all practicing Christians.

Yes, while active in the necessary affairs of this world, providing for the earthly necessities of ourselves and our dependents, we can at the same time, if we are sensible and sincere Christians, be storing up merits for ourselves. These merits will give us a pleasant surprise when the day of reckoning comes. Amen.