Monday, July 19, 2010

16th Sunday - homily

I spent last week on vacation with family at the beach. I spent a whopping 15 minutes on the beach itself…oh well. It was mainly a get-away to play some (bad) golf and get some rest. And, the short time I spent on the beach was at night. I went out for a rosary walk on the beach and was able to enjoy the serenity of the ocean. I really enjoy the serenity and calmness of the ocean. It really lends to meditation in general. But, specifically, that night, I had an insight about the ocean that I don’t know how many people pick up on when they go to the beach.

The ocean is an image of God’s love! It is so vast; it goes as far as the eye can see in any direction. It is an image of God’s love and presence. It is a proof of God’s existence! How did the water get there in the first place? Water is an image of God’s love in the Old Testament. God’s love is as deep as the ocean. The water of the ocean or rivers are images of God’s grace, especially with regard to Baptism. I don’t expect people to have these deep insights when they go to the beach, but how many enter into any kind of meditation about God when they are at the ocean?

I know that people are busy when they go to the beach. Vacations can be more work than work! Parents are busy making sure their kids are enjoying every minute of vacation; there are so many activities going on. Everyone is busy having fun and enjoying the sand, waves, etc. It’s hard to meditate on the beach amid so much busyness, but it’s also hard to miss the power and calmness of the ocean.

I am going on and on about this because I think this relates to today’s readings. People who go the beach and miss out on the ocean are like people who are so busy in life that they miss out on the presence of God. Martha is so busy – doing good things – that she misses out on the presence of Christ. She is busy being a good hostess while Jesus is in her home. But, she is filled with anxiety and worry. She is worried about all the things she needs to do. But, Jesus calls her out on missing the one thing she truly needs. “There is need of only one thing”, he says. I believe that one thing is the presence of God. Mary gets it and she is absorbed in the presence of Christ in her mind and heart. We are called to be busy like Martha and prayerful like Mary.

The most relevant example for us Catholics with all of this is with the Eucharist. Statistics from years ago say that seven out of ten Catholics miss out on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; they believe the Eucharist only a symbol of Christ’s Body and Blood. For some reason, they have missed the true teaching and thus, miss out on the amazing fruits of Christ’s true and visible presence on earth. Catholics who miss out on the Eucharist are like people who miss out on the ocean at the beach.

The Eucharist is the best way for us to enter into the presence of God with our minds and hearts. It is the best for us to imitate the prayerfulness of Mary. We are busy like Martha. We live in a busy world and are busy doing good things…busy working for justice. We can spend time with the Eucharist, not just on Sundays during Mass, but during the week. We can make chapel visits during the week and spend time with the Lord. Even if it’s for just a few minutes. If that is not possible, then we can spend some time in our rooms, praying over Scripture. This is how we enter into the presence of God in our minds and hearts. To be prayerful like Mary even though we are busy like Martha means to have a prayer life where we spend time with the Lord.

So, my brothers and sisters, we are called to be busy like Martha and prayerful like Mary. We are called to do good and work for justice. But, we are also called to spend time in prayer when we enter into the presence of God in our minds and hearts. It’s not an either /or; it’s a both / and. When we are so busy that we don’t spend time in prayer, we are filled with anxiety and worry. But, when we make time to pray, we enter into God’s presence and love. Just like a trip to the beach when we experience the vastness of the ocean, a trip to the chapel brings us an experience of God’s vast presence, vast love, and vast peace.


Matt Shoemaker said...

Couldn't it be also said that Mary represents the reasoning why we need to go to Mass every Sunday, to hear Christ and to see Him face to face in the Eucharist? While Martha's working and helping others is good stuff, the important thing is to take time out and be with Christ.

Madeleine said...

This is just what the priest said at my church in Vienna on Sunday, Matt! Well played, sir.

Jim Stinnett said...

Thanks again Fr. Greg.

For your blog, many people do miss out being as close as they could be to Jesus. All it takes is the willingness to take the time out of our so called business, to look for Jesus actually everywhere..