Fr. Rick’s Homily: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 17, 2022

Gn 18:1-10a; Ps 15:2-5; Col 1:24-28; Lk 10:38-42

Today:  Annual Collection for Solidarity with the Church in Africa

First reading.  Abraham exhibits extraordinary hospitality to strangers from whom no payment or reciprocity was expected.  The visitors are presumed to be angels.

(Entertaining Angels: the Dorothy Day Story, starring Moira Kelly and Martin Sheen from 1996.  This will have significance at the end of the homily…. I hope.  Encountering Christ leads us to an encounter with the most vulnerable, people least likely to reciprocate or return the favor, but who open us up a to a new and fuller US.

The gospel is so rich I want to focus the majority of attention on it.  Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus amidst all the busyness of Martha, who like her ancestor Abraham, also exhibited a strong measure of good hospitality.  Probably a cultural expectation.  This familiar story likely has us relating more to the busyness and disappointment of Martha than to the focused attentiveness of Mary.  We might be tempted to say, “I would love to just sit and just listen to Jesus!”  Really? 

Have you ever actually tried sitting at the feet of Jesus and really listening?  Probably one of the more vivid examples of this we might have is sitting quietly during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  We often find out that this silent time with Jesus looking right at us can make us feel uncomfortable.  We might have the strong tendency to get out of the Church and get BUSY doing all the good stuff we need to get done.  We’d LOVE to just sit quietly with Jesus, right?  Really?  When was the last time we actually did that?  What does it feel like to have Jesus looking at us…? Or rather into us?  Into our hearts?  That would truly be a memorable experience.  Remember that Jesus knows us much better than we know ourselves.

Consider for a moment how the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the heart (CCC 2562-63).  # 2563  “The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.”  A place of covenant.  With whom?

While reflecting on these readings this week I quickly recalled the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in the gospel of John (4:29). After a lengthy conversation in just the perfect tone, Jesus demonstrates to the woman that ‘He knows everything that she has done’.  Recall her history of five husbands and not being married to the man she was currently living with.  After bringing this to her attention, her reaction is not to sulk away in shame and hopelessness.  It is the opposite.  She returns excitedly to her friends exclaiming “Come see a man who has told me everything I have done!”

This is real evangelization.  First, we must give our heart over to the mystery of God’s presence among and within us. The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. Let the Truth sink in.  Feel Jesus lifting the burden of sin and shame.  Feel the new life and the exuberance of honesty.  One of the tests of our real encounter with Jesus Christ is our exuberance at sharing with others the new Life we have found. 

Again, it’s the place of Covenant.  With whom.  First of all, with Jesus.  Recall that Jesus is the bridegroom; we are the bride.  The bride and the bridegroom both share the same responsibilities.  This also implies the rest of the Body of Christ.  Only collectively can we begin to ‘reciprocate’ in a spousal way with Jesus.  Then we go out and share the Good News with the hopeless and most vulnerable.

Recall again the earlier reference to Entertaining Angels and our need to reach out to those who will likely NOT repay or return our generosity.  A genuine ‘Jesus encounter’ would have us noticing the ‘angels’ in our midst who have come to show us more than we could ever imagine.  Recall that the ‘angels’ in our first reading today announced that Sarah would have a woman in her old age.

Please see the bulletin today for some ‘homework’ questions and reflection for the week.  Also, consider streaming the movie, ENTERTAINING ANGELS: THE DOROTHY DAY STORY’ starring Moira Kelly and Martin Sheen.