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Meeting Jesus who comes as guest

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Immediately after Jesus our “Good Samaritan” had told this parable on his way to Jerusalem last Sunday, Luke now tells us the Lord making a stop over at the home of two sisters named Martha and Mary.

The two ladies were of contrasting attitudes in receiving Jesus as guest that he took it as an occasion to teach anew on “what we must do to gain eternal life” when Martha complained to him of Mary not doing anything to help her prepare for him.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need only of one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Luke 10:40-42

Photo by author, Baras, Rizal, January 2021.

Focusing on Jesus more when he comes

We are again presented here with a very familiar story only Luke has like the parable of the good Samaritan last Sunday. Almost everyone feels like knowing Martha and Mary so well, that they have covered everything when Jesus dropped by to visit the two sisters.

And that’s the problem when we feel so familiar with a story by Jesus or in an event in his life that we take it lightly and miss the more essential aspects as well as learn new insights being presented to us.

In this story of Jesus visiting the two sisters, Martha is often presented as the “active” type while Mary is the “contemplative” who sat at the Lord’s feet to listen to his words. As a result, many have thought Jesus favored Mary over Martha, that praying is more important than acting.

That is absolutely wrong! Jesus is not saying it is best to be a contemplative than active, nor Mary is better than Martha.

From Facebook during the first wave COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020.

Through Mary and especially Martha, Jesus is reminding us today not to be so preoccupied or “anxious and worried about many things” in life like food and clothings, money and wealth and other material things.

Jesus had always been consistent in teaching everyone not to be so concerned with wealth, power and fame that prevent us from growing in the kingdom of heaven like in the parable of the sower, of how the seeds that fell among thorns “were choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they failed to produce mature fruit” (Lk.8:14).

Most of all, recall that when his pasch was approaching, Jesus became more pronounced in warning us all in having that overwhelming concern and cares for things of the world especially in relation with his second coming, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth” (Lk.21:34-35).

Such preoccupation with things of the world detracts us from the most essential which is Christ himself and witnessing him in this world so concerned with wealth and power, with fame and ego.

And that is what Martha was missing in having Jesus as guest in their home — she was so busy preparing meals that she had entirely forgotten Jesus himself was in the house! Mary was praised because she chose the most important – Jesus himself who was their guest and the Word he spoke to them! Every time we recognize Christ’s coming in our home and in our very selves, something wonderful always happens. The good news is made known to us like a mission or a plan from God we have long been praying over.

The famous icon of The Trinity visiting Abraham at Mamre by Russian artist Andrei Rublev done in the 15th century. Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

This is the reason we have the beautiful story of Abraham welcoming three guests who turned out to be God himself, the Blessed Trinity coming to his tent at Mamre in our first reading today.

More than the story of Abraham’s hospitality is the announcement of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham of finally having a child of his own with Sarah:

They asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?” He replied, “There in the tent.” One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.”

Genesis 18:9-10

In both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible teems with so many lessons and admonitions from God and his prophets and later from Jesus himself on the need to always welcome and accept strangers especially the poor and the sick for “whatsoever you do the least of these, that you do unto Christ”.

Jesus comes to us daily but are we home to welcome him, to receive him and most of all, listen and act on his words? Or, are we so preoccupied with so many other affairs that we forget his presence, not only among those in need like the priest and Levite last week who just passed by a victim of robbery left half-dead in a street?

The grace of this Sunday lies in the very fact that many times, it is Jesus himself who comes to us right in our homes, in our family members and loved ones, in the ordinary people we take for granted but we are like Martha “so anxious and worried about many things” that we miss the good news he brings to us often. That is why we only get tired with all our efforts, not bearing fruits because we miss the most important of all, Jesus himself!

Let us imitate Paul in the second reading trying to see Jesus in everyone by deepening his reflection last week of Christ as the image of the invisible God and now “Christ in you, the hope for glory” (Col.1:27).

It is our task and mission like Paul to reveal in our lives of loving service to others God’s plan that Jesus came to dwell in us his believers and followers so we may participate in his glory. But how can we participate in God’s glory when we fail to meet Jesus coming daily to our lives because we are like Martha?

Photo by author, Tagaytay, February 2022.

The simplest way to receive Jesus our guest is to seriously participate in our Sunday Eucharist which we tend to take for granted. In the Eucharist, we gather as the Body of Christ with Jesus as our head, the Church.

Notice that in Rublev’s icon of the Trinity at Mamre, the three men are actually gathered in a meal, the Eucharist. When you try to view the icon, you become the fourth person in the painting sharing the meal with the three angels.

That is the mystery of Christ’s coming to our homes daily, in our loved ones and right in our hearts too to share us himself and tell us the good news daily. The Eucharist is in fact our rehearsal in entering heaven in the future, that is why this Sunday, cast away all your anxieties and simply focus in the Lord and you will never get lost! Have a blessed week ahead! Amen.

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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

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