July 17 – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

When I was a FOCUS missionary serving at CU Boulder in Colorado, I was training college students to live and share their faith with others.  One day, at a daily Mass, I recognized a new person sitting by one of our student leaders that I had trained.  After Mass, I asked our student leader if they knew the person that literally sat three feet from them.  Their response shocked me.  They had failed to notice the person who worshipped with them even though they gave each other a sign of peace.

One of the most important things in our faith life is the need to be attentive; not only to God, but as I shared in the story above, to others.  Our readings from this weekend are quite clear about this lesson.  In Genesis we begin with a story of Abraham. Despite the heat of the day, Abraham is looking outside his tent and sees three men passing by. Abraham responds by welcoming the men with hospitality and generously attending to their needs. This leads the men, who represent God (the Trinity), to bless Abraham and his wife Sarah.

In our Gospel, even though a common theme of hospitality is present, the true point of the story is Mary’s attentiveness to the Lord.  Mary sits at Jesus’ feet listening to his words while Martha is failing to notice the one true God who is in her very house! As Jesus said, “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  Mary was receiving her blessing by being at the foot of the Lord.

If we are attentive to the Lord in our life, we can experience the joys of his presence.  Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be attentive so we can not only encounter God, but our brothers and sisters with great joy!

Father Michael