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Saint Martha – July 29th
Readings: (First Reading is taking from Monday) Exo 34:29-35; Lk 10:38-42.
1/ First Reading: RSV Exodus 34:29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tables of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. 32 And afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34 but whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, 35 the people of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone; and Moses would put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.
2/ Gospel: RSV Luke 10:38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
I. THEME: The best part is to listen and to converse with God.
When dealing with a busy life, many people don’t know which ones to choose and which ones to discard. Many chose the not important and discarded the very important ones. Some people didn’t know how to choose so they choose whatever comes first. Such reaction is not wise because all things have their priority in our life. Many times I mentioned the three-feet standing which we must stand firm on it. Here is its priority which we must choose where there is a conflict: First we must choose God above all things as clearly stated in the first of the Ten Commandments. Secondly, we must value human beings more than material things. Last shall be the material things. According to the order of the Ten Commandments and the three-feet standing, the relationship between God and human beings must have the first priority in our life. We must worship and love God above all people and all things.
Today readings emphasize the importance of this order and point out who chose the best part. In the first reading, Moses was given a priviledge: to see God face-to-face and to converse with Him. Because of this priviledge, God’s glory is reflected in his face to the point that the Israelites feared to look on his face. He must wear a veil to reduce this glory. In the Gospel, Jesus teaches people about the importance of God’s kingdom by citing two examples: the first example is a hidden treasure which a person accidentally discovered it in a field and the second example is the precious pearl which a merchant found it. In both examples, Jesus said that both persons went home and sold everything they have to buy what they found.
1/ Reading I: God’s glory shone on Moses’ face.
1.1/ The reason for the shining: The Vietnamese has an adage, “Near ink one shall be darken, and near light one shall be shone.” This adage means when one makes friend with those who are good and holy, he shall be shone by learning good habits from them. In opposition, if one makes friend with those who are bad and evil, he shall be darken by learning bad habits from them. Since Moses was near to God and often conversed with Him, God’s glory shone on his face and all the Israelites recognized this light on his face and they feared him.
In Jesus’ Transfiguration on Thabor mountain, the evangelists also reported Jesus’ face shone as the sun and his dress became white as snow. This teaches us that we must let God’s glory shine on our life through praying, paticipating in the Mass and uniting closely with God; if not, the devil’s darkness shall cover our life. We shall fear and avoid the children of light as the Israelites avoided Moses. If they feared to look on Moses’ face which is only a reflection of God’s glory, how they are dared to look on God’s face, the source of glory as the sun?
1.2/ God talked to people through His leader: The passage reported, “But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. And afterward all the people of Israel came near; and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him in Mount Sinai.”
Beside the glory on his face, Moses was also enlightened in his soul to understand God’s mysteries which no one can know if God doesn’t reveal. Moses certainly knew how important is the Ten Commandments for the people. Therefore, we need to respect and to come to God’s holy leaders to learn about God. They take God’s place to educate and to reveal God’s mysteries for us.
2/ Gospel: “Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
2.1/ Mary chose to sit beside Jesus’ feet to hear his teaching.
Many of us also think like Martha, Mary her sister is lazy; she chose the easy way and let all works for Martha to do. But Mary’s choice is very wise and calculated as Jesus praised her, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” Some reasons which Mary could be based on to make her choice:
(1) Mary clearly knew the priority of life: She knows that she must choose God above all thing as the first commandment teaches. This is obvious in principle, but not easy to follow in reality. Mary knew no one has the word of wisdom which brings life as Jesus; therefore, she delayed all other things to listen to what Jesus wants to reveal.
(2) Mary knew how to take advantage of the opportunity when it came: Some people who are so busy to preach the Gospel as Jesus, isn’t easy to meet. Mary knew her chance to converse with Jesus is rare; if she doesn’t take advantage of it; there could be no other chance. We need to learn from her so that when God sends His preachers to meet us; we know how to arrange our time so we can listen to them. Do not suppose that we shall have another opportunity so we shall not be regretful later.
(3) Mary knew hospitality isn’t only limited in serving but also in conversation: Mary saw her sister was so busy with serving; she chose to have conversation with Jesus. Many of us didn’t pay attention to this delicate aspect so we let our guest sit alone in the guest room while we are preparing food in the kitchen. Understand so, Mary’s decision is wise: she converses with Jesus while her sister is preparing food.
2.2/ Martha chose to cook for Jesus.
When a precious guest like Jesus visits Martha’s house, it is the opportunity for the host to show her hospitality and talent of cooking. We aren’t surprise to see Martha who was so busy with serving to the point that she came to him and complain, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” To her surprise, the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” There are many lessons we can learn from Jesus’ answer:
(1) Martha didn’t understand the priority of life: Jesus corrected her fault when he said, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” The food, even they are so good, shall pass away; but God’s words remain in people’s mind and shall enlighten them so they know how to live in order to have a happy life.
(2) Martha didn’t pay attention to others’ need: She might think that only her work is matter and the conversation is useless! This is an error which many of us have. We should not make others to think like ours because each of us has different thinking and actions. We also don’t have enough knowledge to decide which work is the best, until that work is clearly declared by God.
(3) Martha didn’t know how to arrange her time and tasks: She might not know in advance when Jesus comes because ancient people don’t have a habit of making appointment like us. Whatever happened, Martha should not pay attention too much to food because our guests come to visit, not to only eat! Our Vietnam families need to pay attention to this point so we shall not make too much food for guests. In most of the meals, our guests didn’t consume a half of our prepared food. The host must eat the leftovers or throw them away. In such cases, we unnecessarily wasted our food.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– God is our most precious treasure, we should not put anything above Him.
– In order to have God, we must sacrifice all other things that belong to this world. We must sacrifice so we would have time to converse with Him and to learn wisdom from Him.