Giving Time, Making Space
16th Sunday in Ordinary Tume (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

Jesus formed very deep friendships. Among the twelve apostles He was closest to Peter, James, and John. He was also very close to Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus. He often visited their home as recounted in today’s gospel story (Lk. 10:38-41). This passage is strategically located between the story of the Good Samaritan and Jesus’ teaching the Our Father to the disciples. Martha and Mary exemplify the two important actions of a disciple - to give time to others in service and to give time to God in prayer.

The essence of hospitality is to make space and to make time. It is to welcome people to one’s special space (home) and offering them shelter and food. A host makes his visitors feel comfortable and important by giving them one’s time through good conversation and one’s presence. A good host attends to his visitors and makes them feel at home - “mi casa es su casa.”

Action starter: Give time and space.

Hospitality is a universal value. Among the Semitic people who often have to travel far distances through arid and dusty roads, it is a highly regarded practice. A stranger and even one who is considered an enemy deserves all the protection and care of the host once he is welcomed into one’s tent. We have a good illustration of this in the first reading where Abraham entertained three strangers, “Please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought that you may bathe your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree” (Gen. 18:3).

The story of Abraham and that of Martha and Mary remind us to go out of our way to care for the neighbor and to give time for conversation with God (prayer). These two actions are complementary. Both demand that we go out of our comfort zones. As last Sunday’s parable of the Good Samaritan reminded us, we have to break our ordinary routine to care for others. However these interruptions are opportunities for loving. Like Martha we busy ourselves in preparing food for the hungry and drink for the thirsty. Like Mary we interrupt our busy schedule to listen to God in the silence of prayer. Anticipating next Sunday’s gospel, we ask the Lord to teach us to pray.

As we go about our daily preoccupations, let us give ourselves some time to look at what we are doing. Some of us are prone to action. Sometimes it is plain inertia that pushes us. We are busy for the sake of being busy. We are uncomfortable with times of silence. We do not know what to do with our “spare” time. Some of us are prone to laziness. We do not want to act. We let the world go by and sometimes waste our time in idle musings and wasteful talk.

As the philosopher says, “In medio stat virtus.” Virtue stands in the middle. The Christian disciple is one who acts and listens. He is a contemplative in action. There is a Martha and Mary in each of us. Both are expressions of love.

The lighter side - a monk asked his superior, “Can I work while I pray?” “No,” answered the superior. The other monk asked, “Can I pray while I work?” “Yes, you may.”