July 17, 2022 – 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071722.cfm)
Once, a mother approached and asked me for advice regarding her growing children. She was so worried about her children who according to her becoming irresponsible. One comes home late at night without any permission. Her teenage daughter doesn’t anymore go to mass with them, but spend more time with her non-Christian boyfriend. One likes to go out often, as if not anymore living with them. She even suspects that her son is involved now with drugs and drinks. All her children now know how to answer back and not so serious with their studies. In her frustration, she asked me “Father, what have I done wrong? We do everything for them to have a better life. My husband and I work seriously to provide them good nourishment, education, and lifestyle. But how come it happened this way?”
As for my advice, I told her: “yes, it is true, Maam that it is hard to parent growing children. A number of families nowadays are into such difficulty. But may I ask you, do you have common activities as family?” She was so confused with the question, so I asked her: “Do you have meals, pray, and recreation together as family?” She replied, “That’s impossible for us because we are busy with our work. Our children also have their own different schedules and friends that is why usually we cannot be together during meals, prayers, or activities.” Then I told her, “Maam maybe that is what is missing in your family life. You don’t give time to one another. You become so busy with your own individual activities in serving one another that you forget to whom and why are you serving. You have wasted the time and opportunity to intimately experience and know one another as family.”
If we reflect deeply in our lives today, it could happen that we become so pre-occupied with our concerns FOR our family, that we don’t have anymore time WITH one another. Yes, it is true that whatever we do is for God and others, especially for our family. But it could happen that we hide ourselves with our work and activities, so that our relationship becomes cold and shallow. It could happen, like that mother, because of our own individual concerns and responsibilities in life, our relationships with others becomes cold and shallow, no more bonding and love for one another.
Just like in our gospel today. Martha and Mary must have felt great joy and privilege when Jesus paid them a home-visit. Martha was right to do what should be done – to do things right in order to welcome and accommodate their honored guest. However, because of her great worry and concern to do things right for Jesus, Martha missed the right thing to do before the Lord’s presence, which is to be with Jesus: to listen to the Good News the Lord is intending to share with them in his visit, and to have a quality and common time with them. Meaning, beyond their hospitality, Jesus expects from them an opportunity for friendship and bonding with them. He needs more than just their humble service and hospitality but to enjoy and celebrate their love and friendship with Jesus. Thus, Jesus rebuked Martha when she complained about Mary, to remind her that what matters is not her lack or excess of service, or her responsibility or Mary’s irresponsibility, but such humble service and responsibility to Him should be born out of their intimate relationship with Jesus and with one another.
As Christians, in the same way, our humble service to others, our responsibility to one another must grow out of our faith relationship in Jesus, not of our human endeavors. Our salvation then is primarily God’s grace or gift to us that doesn’t only require our response of humble service, but more so gives us the opportunity to experience, unite and be intimate and one with God and one another. Yes, to follow Christ is indeed a responsibility. But responsibilities are built out of and based on our relationships. What matters in life, then are our relationships with God and one another over & above than our responsibilities to each other. And doing the right thing in our relationship is more noble and important than doing things right responsibly.
In every relationship there is corresponding responsibilities. But fulfilled responsibilities are meaningless if and when it is not grounded on our quality and intimate relationship.
Perhaps, we ask ourselves: “if and when God pay you a home visit, what would you do? How would you respond? Will you be listening to Him and of His agenda for His visit? Or will you be busy or occupied with responsibilities to do things right than to do the right things with Him?
Perhaps our life amidst Covid Pandemic nowadays challenge us to improve the Quality of our family, social & faith life as we cope & do our part in rebuilding of our lives during these trying times.
Brothers and sisters, as we follow Jesus in our lives anew, like Mary, may we build up & strengthen our common relationships with Him and one another by spending quality time to listen, experience and grow intimately with one another, as Filipino Christian family, nation, & church. So May it Be. Amen.