Welcoming Jesus Christ: Our Divine Guest And Friend!
Readings: (1st: Gen 18, 1-10; Ps: 14, 2-5; 2nd: Col 1, 24-28; Gos: Lk 10, 38-42)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the Parochial Vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, Phone: +23408063767512, +23408024942843
On this 16th Sunday, the first reading and the Gospel have so much in common. Of utmost importance is the fact that they both revolve around hospitality and welcoming Christ as our guest and friend. It is on the strength of these therefore, that the church invites us to welcome, appreciate, celebrate Jesus Christ (God) who is among us as a dear guest and friend. We are locked up in a very busy and stereotyped world where virtually everything has been so designed and planned that if we are not careful as Christians we live someone else’s life. That is, that of those who fashioned the way society operates and what they consider the state’s or society’s priorities. The problem with this is that often times they do everything possible to bracket God and spirituality out of the whole system. Not only this, they employ all that is within their power to ensure that directly or indirectly we live by it.
In the first reading, Abraham saw his opportunity to have God under his roof and he did not let it pass him by. He insisted thus: “…if I find favour with you, kindly do not pass your servant by…that is why you have come to your servant’s direction.” His hospitality transcended mortals and extended to immortals. Not only did he welcome them under his roof, he equally paid attention to what they have to say to him, gave them a good share of his time, and attended to almost all their basic needs. Of course, he won their friendship instantly and this friendship brought blessings upon his household. Paul succinctly tells us that the “Mystery that God revealed to the world is Christ himself among us.” This Mystery of course is equally our guest and friend, and also our hope of glory. In order words, He comes to us as one friend visits the other. Welcoming this Mystery which is Christ as our guest and friend is a pre-requisite for establishing a long standing relationship with God.
The gospel of today presents us with a terrain that must be walked with caution, least we fall victims of the error of thinking that Jesus is against one carrying out necessary house-hold chores or attending to our material needs. Far be it from this! As we grow in life our priorities change, and it is actually supposed to become less mundane. Of greater importance is the fact that generally speaking there should be a paradigm shift in our priorities as maturity sets in. Therefore, Jesus’s address to Martha: “you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed”, is well founded and goes to all of us too who in one way or the other are so distracted by the pursuit of mundane things over and above spiritual ones. It goes to all of us who have misplaced our priorities in life as Christians and in the house of God. It is not an excuse for us not to be hospitable to strangers, our guests and friends. Rather, it is a radical call to each and every one of us to set our priorities right. Jesus perhaps feels that it was not enough for Martha to welcome him to her house, but that she should also pay attention to what he has to say first and then go ahead to take care of material things later. Both the spiritual and temporal are good, but they are when attended to in their right order. Hence Jesus says: “It is Mary who has chosen the better part…” Jesus wanted her as he wants us today to set her priorities right by doing the first and most important things first.
A pastor was posted to a promising parish. He spent most of his time and energy erecting beautiful structures like, the church building, the father’s house, chapel, landscaping the entire parish compound etcetera. It was not long when his bishop decided to transfer him because of a fracas that broke out between him and the same parish council that motivated him and sang his praise as a very “vibrant”, “social”, and “happening priest”. During his send off party, an elderly woman asked to be given just a few minutes to appreciate their priest. She began thus: “Our dear pastor, we shall certainly miss you and the works you have done. Since you were posted here, you have erected a fine church building, father’s house, good chapel of adoration and done good land scalping, but you did not build our spiritual lives because it is almost at the same level it was when you came to us some years ago. I wish in your new parish you will pay more attention to building the spiritual lives of your parishioners! Thank you father, we wish you a more spirit-filled ministry in your new parish!” Every one clapped for her and she walked away. Of course she has passed her message and the priest received it with mixed feeling not knowing whether to cry or to laugh. The message is simple, he misplaced his priority!
It is obvious that most Christians have misplaced their priorities in life which is supposed to be first of all, welcoming Jesus Christ every day into our lives making him a permanent friend, listening to him, and doing his will. It is even most unfortunate that though we are too busy with church activities we are millions of miles away from striking any chord of relationship or friendship with Jesus Christ. Hence the saying that: “One has time for the work of God but no time for the God of the work”, becomes absolutely true. What a pity! Many Christians are so distracted today with the social and material activities going on in our churches that they hardly have time for their spiritual life. The frenzy and craze for all sorts of mundane activities has gripped both pastors and faithful alike. It is only when we cement our relationship with Christ, welcome him, seat by him and listen to him like Mary in today’s gospel that we can actually be prepared to do other things. A situation where by a baptized Christian does not spend any quality time with God simply because one is busy with the quest for material welfare could be likened to the situation of Martha. Hence, the Psalmist reminds us today that: “The just will live in the presence of the Lord!”
Peace be with you all!