Homily for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 2019

     A battleship was out at sea participating in naval maneuvers, when an Ensign raced to the bridge, waving a piece of paper.  “Captain,” he said breathlessly, “there’s a message for you from the Admiral!”

     “Well, read it!” growled the Captain.

     Reluctantly, the Ensign began to read: “Of all the blundering, bone-headed nincompoops in this world, you take the cake!”

     The bumbling Captain looked confused for a moment and then GAVE THE ORDER: “Have that message DECODED at once!”

     Obviously the Captain didn’t get the message!  And THAT’S what (tonight’s/this morning’s) Gospel is all about: NOT GETTING JESUS’ MESSAGE.  Poor Martha was slaving away in the kitchen, doing her best to cook for her guests, and she wasn’t getting any help!  So she complained to Jesus. And Jesus knew that Martha’s complaint was justified!

     But Jesus also knew something else about Martha.  He knew that she was always upset about something.  She had a good heart. She wanted to do the right thing; and she worked very hard at it.  But, there was no peace in her, no joy – because MARTHA had forgotten “WHY” she was exhausting herself on all the details of hospitality! — Somehow, the emphasis of Martha’s wonderful little “dinner party” had subtly SHIFTED FROM the guest of honor, Jesus, to the now-exhausted, and quite irritable hostess, Martha!

     So, WHY do we do what we do? — WHAT (or WHO) IS OUR LIFE FOR?  What’s all the scrambling, striving, and struggling for? — Are ALL the THINGS that EXHAUST us really worth the pain? — Have we become like Martha, anxious and worried about many, many things, but MISSING THE POINT – MISSING WHAT REALLY COUNTS?

     For most of us, the TRUTH IS that the “Martha part” of us (and there IS a “Martha part” in almost ALL of us) – the “Martha part” PREVAILS too often!  BEING responsible parents, attentive spouses, reliable breadwinners, respectable homeowners, good neighbors, a competent pastor, upstanding members of our Church and community – can keep us scrambling faster and faster, and can leave us reeling, distracted, and exhausted!  And we begin asking ourselves have things, somehow, gotten out of hand?” —— And, IF the SHORT ANSWER is “YES,” then, WHAT CAN WE DO? 

     Is “running away from home” the only viable escape from all LIFE’S ACTIVITIES that are weighing us down? — (There are lots of folks who do “run away” in one way or another [and I’m sure you could name a handful of those folks without even breaking a sweat]; BUT, THAT’S NO ANSWER!) —- The right answer starts with doing what Martha’s sister Mary did: Being quiet in the Lord’s presence and letting him help us to REMEMBER what all our scrambling is for: IT’S FOR TAKING CARE OF GOD’S PEOPLE – SPECIFICALLY THE ONES HE’S ENTRUSTED INTO OUR CARE!

     THAT SIMPLE ACT OF “REMEMBERING” has the power to restore our FOCUS and our SPIRITS.  It shifts the spotlight away from our TASKS and onto the PEOPLE for whom those tasks are done! — We’ll still have to do the tasks; but NOW we’ll be better able to SEE THE POINT!  And THAT should bring us JOY! — We’ll still get TIRED; (earning the daily bread for the family; cooking it; chauffeuring the kids here and there and everywhere, and volunteering for any number of very worthwhile causes) — but now we’ll remember WHO or WHAT the tiredness is for; and THAT REMEMBERING will help us; because we will then DISCOVER that we’ve KEPT the FACES of those whom God has assigned to us as the “SCREEN SAVERS” on the computers of our hearts!

     THAT’S what DAILY PRAYER is supposed to HELP US TO DO. — It’s supposed to help us to REMEMBER (at various times throughout the day) – that: “I’m doing WHAT I’m doing now – for SOMEONE whom God has ENTRUSTED TO MY CARE.”— my spouse, my child, my grandchild, my friend, my neighbor, my fellow parishioner, etc. 

     There’s a anxious, frazzled, Martha wandering about in all our souls – who’s worried about many, many things.  Just DON’T LET HER DEFINE your life! — LET JESUS DEFINE YOUR LIFE!  Forget the small stuff, and remember that your real mission here on earth is to help take care of GOD’S FAMILY – beginning with YOUR OWN!

     “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.”

     ALL of us are very busy people.  We’re busy in church, we’re busy

 in the community, we’re busy in our work, we’re busy raising our

 families.  We are productive (at least most of the time), and we’re

 successful.  But have we found the “ONE THING” that’s “needed,” –

 the one thing that will help us to prioritize our lives and give

 them the “meaning” and the “peace” we crave? — Take a clue from Martha’s sister, Mary.  And that is to take a few moments each day to sit at the feet of Jesus – so that he can remind us WHY we’re so busy, and WHOM its all FOR!