16TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – C
Luke 10: 38-42
Luke presents to us the two sisters Martha and Mary as mirrors which reflect back how we respond to the presence of God. They also represent two seemingly opposite spiritualities which are actually complementary in nature, namely active and contemplative. They are the yin yang that shape our ministries, only if given the right direction towards active contemplation.
Martha was a picture of a hospitality gone wrong. Not that we judge her actions as totally incorrect because somebody needed to do what she was doing, that is, to prepare the best meal for Jesus. What had gone wrong was her intention of falsely imputing malice against her sister. She thought she was right in her own world and everything that existed outside herself was wrong. Because of this mistaken perspective she demanded that her sister joins her world as if the other side had gone wrong. Her actions became a display of external piety that required appreciation and reward. Martha lends her mask to the Pharisee who berated the Publican before God and to the older son who judged and won’t accept his prodigal brother. In many aspects, Mary becomes us most especially in terms of our judgment towards others making our work and our lifestyle the standard that measures up others’ failure or success. In a sense, we control others without us knowing it and oftentimes under the guise of honesty and good intentions. This is also true in our relationship with God when we expect that we be rewarded because we have done our best; that we be spared from pain or anything that we hate accepting because we have been faithful to God and never gone astray like others. We become obsessive of deserving favor from God and others because we have been good.
Mary on the other side basked in the presence of Jesus and was completely lost in contemplation. For her, to be in the presence of Jesus completed her being therefore she needed nothing more than relishing the Word became flesh in front of her. Nothing much is said about her other than being praised for “being taken the better part.” Sad to say that our generation has lost the sense of contemplation because we are afraid to be still most especially when nothing is happening. To the modern world, contemplation, silence and solitude are strange words and concepts, just like spiritual retreat or discernment. They pose a threat to the noise that we are accustomed to, as if it is waste of time being silent and alone with God. In the Old Testament, Elijah met God through a silent breeze in the cave. When was the last time we got lost in contemplation?
Yes we need action as well as contemplation but we can only be evangelizers of the Word after listening to the Word in prayer. After making the Word our own in silence, we now have a voice to transform the world through our action.