|Arts & Entertainment|
|Breaking Open the Word|
|World & Nation|
|DCR Advertising Rates|
|DCR Submission Guidelines|
July 14, 2010
Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
July 18th: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Overview: The most obvious connection between the Old Testament and Gospel readings deals with hospitality. But there’s more to it than that, as we shall see. In the first reading three strangers arrive at Abraham’s tent. In customary Middle Eastern fashion Abraham invites them into his tent, washes their feet and has a sumptuous meal prepared for them. Christian tradition has seen in this reading a foreshadowing of the Trinity as “The LORD appeared to Abraham” in the guise of three men. Notice how the reading changes back and forth between the singular and the plural. Through the visitors the LORD reveals his plan to Abraham, saying that Sarah will give birth to a son, even in her old age. Abraham and Sarah have key roles to play in God’s plan of salvation although they can only see a tiny part of it. In the second reading St. Paul explains his role as a minister of Christ, which is “to bring to completion for you the word of God: the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.” Paul does not mean to suggest, at the beginning of the reading, that there is anything lacking in terms of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, rather that Paul’s suffering plays a part in God’s plan by enabling him to bear witness to Christ crucified. In the Gospel reading, Martha and Mary welcome the Lord into their home, like Abraham. The difference, of course, is that Martha is “anxious and worried” about serving while Mary is commended for having “chosen the better part.” It’s worth noting that this reading follows the story of the Good Samaritan, which stressed the importance of active service. Placed here, the story of Martha and Mary balances the parable of the Good Samaritan by stressing the primary necessity of faith and the importance of listening to God.
Key verse: “There is need of only one thing” (Lk 10:42).
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”: “It is in this eternal liturgy that the Spirit and the Church enable us to participate whenever we celebrate the mystery of salvation in the sacraments” (No. 1139).
Pope Benedict XVI: “What does this ‘active participation’ come down to? What does it mean? Unfortunately, the word was very quickly misunderstood to mean something external, entailing a need for general activity as if as many people as possible as often as possible should be visibly engaged in action. The uniqueness of the eucharistic liturgy lies precisely in the fact that God himself is acting and that we are drawn into that action of God. Everything else is, therefore, secondary” (Spirit of the Liturgy).
Life application: Martha was doing something useful and important, physically speaking, but spiritually she was far away from Christ. Mary, on the other hand, experienced deep communion with God, even though she wasn’t “doing” anything. One of the main goals of Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy was the “fully conscious and active participation” of the people at Mass. But “active participation” doesn’t mean external activity; rather, it refers to an interior disposition in which each of us participates “fully and consciously” in the sacred mystery of the most blessed Trinity.
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese.