16th Sunday in Ordinary Time – A
July 23, 2017
This week we honor the sister of Mary and Lazarus, Saint Martha, on July 29 – the only one of the three siblings with a feast day on the Roman Catholic calendar. Why does the Church give a date to Saint
Martha, not Mary, who wisely sat at Jesus’ feet, feeding on His every word … or Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead? Let’s reflect on Saint Martha’s
orations to find out – but first …
The Gospels quote Saint
Martha on two occasions: once, when overwhelmed with the household chores when Jesus came for dinner, Saint
Martha told Him to tell her sister Mary to help her, but Jesus said:“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.”
[Luke 10:41-42] Then, at her brother Lazarus’ tomb she said: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”
[John 11:21-22] When Jesus assured her He is the Resurrection and the Life, and the dead will rise again, she professed her faith: “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” [John 11:1-53] Her orations are also based on the simple words, “and Martha served” [John 12:2]
while Mary anointed Jesus’ feet at a dinner at their home with the newly raised Lazarus, a week before our Lord’s own death.
Collect – Saint Martha
Almighty ever-living God, whose Son
was pleased to be welcomed in
Saint Martha’s house as a guest, grant,
we pray, that through her intercession, serving Christ faithfully in our brothers and sisters,
we may merit to be received by you
in the halls of heaven.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ … and ever. Amen.
STEP ONE: INVITE THE LORD IN! Would Jesus feel like a welcomed guest in our home, school, workplace and every place we visit? Are His words – spoken in the Bible and in Church teaching – heard and echoed in our
own words and deeds? Do we welcome Jesus in the stranger and outcast, the unborn and unwanted, the poor and needy? For if we hope He will welcome us into His home: our true and eternal home in heaven, we must welcome Him now, in every way He is present to us, into our homes and hearts, our minds and plans.
Prayer over the Offerings – Saint Martha
As we proclaim your wonders in Saint Martha,
O Lord, we humbly implore your majesty, that, as her homage of love was pleasing to you,
so, too, our dutiful service may find favor
in your sight. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
STEP TWO: GIVE GOD THE TIME OF DAY. Very few are called to leave the world, enter a monastery, and live out their entire life in contemplative prayer. Most of us, myself included, are called to do all we do for and with God. While there are times, as the next oration shows, that we must rest from our labors and make time for God, we are called to make God a part of everything we do. And so we ask Saint Martha, patron saint of housekeepers and cooks, waiters and waitresses, servants and laborers, to intercede for us … and help us offer all we say and do as a “homage of love.”
Prayer after Communion – Saint Martha
May the holy reception of the Body and Blood
of your Only Begotten Son, O Lord,
turn us away from the cares of this fallen world,
so that, following the example of Saint Martha,
we may grow in sincere love for you on earth
and rejoice to behold you for eternity in heaven.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
STEP THREE: FEED ON CHRIST’S PRESENCE. This oration is so easy to comment on, since -almost verbatim – many indict themselves when they say things like, “I have no time for Mass or church events; there’s sports and shopping, school and work, travel and vacation, etc., etc., etc.” Would Jesus say that such people have, like Saint Martha’s
sister Mary “chosen the better part?”
Daily responsibilities and earthly needs are important; but our greatest source of strength to accomplish all we must do comes from God … through the Sacraments, especially weekly Eucharist. Do we choose the better part at least once a week? Saint Martha, pray for us.
In His holy Name,
Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS