July 17, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm 15:2-3, 5
2) Colossians 1:24-28
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
My mother never ceases to amaze me. Any time I come for a visit, even on short notice, she’s got some sort of homemade treat ready in a matter of minutes. Whether it’s a piece of blackberry pie or chicken noodle soup, scratch-made spaghetti sauce or my favorite klobase sandwich, she’s able to produce something out of her freezer or pantry that makes me happy to sit at her kitchen table for a nice long visit.
I’m not the only one. Mom has a large “extended family” that includes parish priests, her kids’ former college roommates, retired army buddies and their wives, or old friends just passing through. And if she’s visiting their home, she never arrives empty-handed. And she makes it look so easy!
I think that Mom simply plans for generosity. As with Abraham and Sarah’s fine flour or tender, choice steer, Mom has already stocked up her supplies, and, even more important, she has the attitude that nothing is too good for guests. Nor are her visitors considered an imposition, for in welcoming them and seeing to their comfort, she welcomes the Lord.
In today’s Gospel, Martha and Mary illustrate both sides of that hospitality coin. Martha honors the tradition of her ancestors Abraham and Sarah by fussing over the preparations, the food, a comfortable environment. Mary attends to the guest in a different way, extending personal welcome and attention. Jesus isn’t unappreciative of Martha’s efforts, but her anxiety and worry are evidence that her focus is off-kilter.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are asked to reflect anew on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. At the root of each of them — whether visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, comforting the sorrowful or instructing the ignorant — is an attitude of hospitality, of welcoming our Lord — the guest, as he comes to us in need of mercy and compassion.
This doesn’t just happen. Each of us must prepare and predispose ourselves to be mercifully hospitable, not only in giving material aid, but especially by engaging those to whom mercy is offered, as one would encounter Christ himself.
We don’t have to make mercy look easy, and we don’t have to worry about performing acts of mercy perfectly. But mercy is not an option.
Which of the spiritual or corporal works of mercy have you practiced lately? How have you encountered the living Christ more deeply in that action?