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Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lk. 10:38-42

A dinner party that went sour is the focus of today's Gospel reading. It was a spontaneous event although we know that Jesus was a friend of the family. His Apostles were probably with Him for what could have been a very happy occasion, but it was spoilt because of the attitude of one person.

Picture Martha, her face flushed with resentment. She was angry with her sister Mary but she spoke to Jesus. “Lord, do You not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.” Martha clearly felt mistreated - and everyone should know about it! She may have had a legitimate claim but surely there was a better way to express it.

What was the result of her outburst? Was the meal ever served? Did anyone enjoy it? Did she put an end to any laughter there might have been? How true it is that the anger of one unhappy person can mar the happiness of everyone present.

This story has a very real meaning for you and me. It reminds us that our attitude on all occasions is very important. From time to time we need to take a close look at ourselves with this thought in mind. What is my attitude when I am at home, at school, at work or on holiday? It may not seem important to me, but it is of primary importance to the people in our company.

Our attitude can make or break our deed of service. Martha was doing something good and useful, preparing food, but was she overdoing it?

Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed.” Some scholars think Martha was trying to prepare a feast when Jesus wanted a snack. But who can enjoy a meal that is prepared in anger and resentment? Our finest deeds can be ruined by a wrong spirit. Just ask the wife whose husband tries to substitute diamonds for kindness. Talk to the husband whose wife carefully performs all her duties, but never seems to enjoy them or him. Look at those children whose parents have showered them with expensive gifts, and give them very little of their time and affection. The attitude behind the gifts is what is important.

Our attitude also reveals whether we have our priorities correct. Jesus’ time with His friends was limited and He wanted to give them as much of Himself as possible. He wanted Mary to be at His feet listening to Him - and probably He would have liked Martha there too! Look at the parents who think that the most important thing is to keep their young children clean and fed. Both are important, of course, but more important for the children is the atmosphere of the home. The best gift that parents can give their children is when they see Daddy loving Mummy and Mummy loving Daddy amid plenty of smiles and abundance of laughter.

The attitude we have is what makes the most lasting impression. Jesus went to the home of Martha and Mary for some refreshment. But what do we remember? That Martha spoilt the occasion with her attitude! And what we should be remembering is Mary’s closeness to Jesus.

What we can do today is help the people around us make some happy memories. They will not remember much of what we say or do but they will never forget our attitude. If we are warm, kind and caring, it will do something good for them. Someday they will look back with gratitude, and be glad they knew us.

Lord Jesus, help us to realise that we need to have the attitude of Mary and not Martha, and encourage us to take a look at ourselves to see if this is what we are doing.

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