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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

July 29th: Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus
1st Reading (Exod 32:15-24.30-34): Moses turned and came down the mountain with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, front and back; tablets that were made by God, having inscriptions on them that were engraved by God himself. Now, when Joshua heard the noise of the people shouting, he said to Moses, «That sounds like a battle in the camp». But Moses answered, «It does not sound like cries of victory, nor does it sound like cries of defeat; the sounds that I hear are cries of revelry». As he drew near the camp, he saw the calf and the dancing. With that, Moses' wrath flared up, so that he threw the tablets down and broke them on the base of the mountain. Taking the calf they had made, he fused it in the fire and then ground it down to powder, which he scattered on the water and made the children of Israel drink.

Moses asked Aaron, «What did this people ever do to you that you should lead them into so grave a sin?». Aaron replied, «Let not my lord be angry. You know well enough how prone the people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us a god to be our leader; as for the man Moses who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him’. So I told them, ‘Let anyone who has gold jewelry take it off’. They gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and this calf came out».

On the next day Moses said to the people, «You have committed a grave sin. I will go up to the Lord, then; perhaps I may be able to make atonement for your sin». So Moses went back to the Lord and said, «Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! If you would only forgive their sin! If you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written». The Lord answered, «Him only who has sinned against me will I strike out of my book. Now, go and lead the people to the place I have told you. My angel will go before you. When it is time for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin».
Responsorial Psalm: 105
R/. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
Our fathers made a calf in Horeb and adored a molten image; they exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock.

They forgot the God who had saved them, who had done great deeds in Egypt, wondrous deeds in the land of Ham, terrible things at the Red Sea.

Then he spoke of exterminating them, but Moses, his chosen one, withstood him in the breach to turn back his destructive wrath.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jas 1:18): Alleluia. The Father willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Alleluia.
Gospel text (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.”

"You are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing"

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench (Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we must also listen to our Lord —even if we are busy by so many things— reminding us that “there is need of only one thing” (Lk 10:42): love and saintliness. They should be our aim, the horizon we must never lose sight of amidst our daily chores.

Because we shall be “busy” if we follow our Creator’s plan: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28). The earth! The world! This is our meeting point with the Lord. “I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one” (Jn 17:15). Yes, the world is an “altar” for us and for our offerings to God and to others.

We belong in this world, but that does not mean we have to be worldly. On the contrary, we are called to become —in a beautiful expression of Saint John Paul II— “Priests of Creation!” “priests” of our world, of a world we passionately love.

Here is the question: world and saintliness; our daily chores and the one and only thing we truly need. They are not opposed realities, and we have to try to make both coincide. And this coincidence must be carried out in our own heart, where heaven and earth can be reunited. Because within the human heart is where the dialogue between Creator and creature takes place.

Therefore, prayer is necessary. “Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of "doing for the sake of doing". We must resist this temptation by trying "to be" before trying "to do". In this regard we should recall how Jesus reproved Martha: "You are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing" (Lk 10:41-42).” (Saint John Paul II).

There is no opposition between “to be” and “to do”, but there is indeed a priority order of precedence: “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Lk 10:42).

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Marta's life is our world; Mary's life is the world we hope for. Let us live the one here with righteousness to fully obtain the other one.” (Saint Augustine)

  • “Christ's words are quite clear: there is no contempt for active life, nor even less for generous hospitality; rather, a distinct reminder of the fact that the only really necessary thing is something else: listening to the word of the Lord” (Benedict XVI)

  • “And such is the force and power of the Word of God that it can serve the Church as her support and vigor, and the children of the Church as strength for their faith, food for the soul, and a pure and lasting fount of spiritual life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 131)