Focus on the One Thing Necessary - Bishop Barron's Sunday Sermon
Bishop Robert Barron
Daily Gospel Reflection - Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Friends, the Gospel for this Sunday is the wonderful story of Martha and Mary. But the Church sets this up in a really interesting way by giving us a first reading from Genesis 18—the mysterious story of Abraham being visited by three guests. The two stories together show us that the problem is not hospitality, nor being active as opposed to contemplative; rather, the problem is being focused on many things instead of the one thing necessary, in which everything else tends to fall into the right place.
Gospel: Lk 10:38-42
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
*United States Conference of Catholic
Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, today’s Gospel inspires protests more than almost any other that I’ve preached on. "Hey Bishop, I think Martha gets a bum rap." And for centuries the story has been read that Martha represents the "active" life and Mary the "contemplative" life. I would like to stress that the active/contemplative reading of the Martha and Mary story is not that helpful. We have to dig a little deeper.
What does he upbraid Martha for? "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things." It is the frantic, divided, unfocused quality of her life that Jesus is drawing attention to. And what is Mary being praised for? Not precisely that she is "contemplative," but that she has chosen the unum necessarium (the one necessary thing). She sits quietly at the feet of the Lord, not so much eschewing work as gathering herself, learning what she is essentially about.
There is a cacophony of voices calling out to you; there are a thousand influences pulling you this way and that. What’s the one necessary thing? It is to listen to the voice of Jesus as he tells you of his love and as he tells you who you are.