Thoughts on yesterday's mass readings


I’ve often struggled with yesterday’s Gospel (Luke 10:38-42), since if I would probably be more the Martha in the story. I have a real difficult time sitting in one place for any length of time. Always felt more comfortable serving others. Depending on which verse of the Gospel you focus on it can change the moral of the story. So I’ve always leaned toward the moral of the story being that there is a time and a place for all things.

However, when I heard the Gospel yesterday in light of the first 2 readings my mind focused on the end of the Gospel when Jesus says “There is need of only one thing.” This immediately got me wondering why would the Gospel be read in light of the first 2 readings? The first being Genesis 18:1-10 where we see the importance of Abraham serving the 3 travelers sent by God. The second being Colossians 1:24-28 where St. Paul talks about him filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ in accordance with God’s stewardship which was given to him. This is where my confusion came in leaving me wondering why? and I could use a little help. In a nut shell the first 2 readings seem to lean more towards the importance of good work’s through Christ, where as the final reading seems to lean more towards the importance of faith. The only thing I can think of is yesterdays readings pretty much let us that there is a time to work and a time to listen. I don’t know, would like to hear others thoughts on this.



Sorry to digress. While I was listening to the homily yesterday, this thought came to me.

I thought Jesus would have agreed with Martha, who did all the chores, but surprisingly no, he condoned Mary’s idleness (not exactly of course as she was listening to Jesus).

Why didn’t Jesus accede to Martha’s request and told Mary to help her? Wouldn’t that be a correct thing to do for a sister to help in the house chores? Doing the dishes, for example.

Why was listening to Jesus more important than giving a hand to do things around the house? What message was Jesus trying to make here?


Check out Bishop Robert Barron’s sermon on this week’s gospel reading. One thing I learned from it was how Jesus was affirming women’s rightful place as his disciple among men. At the time women simply didn’t sit at a rabbi’s feet, but of course there aren’t such distinctions in the Kingdom of God.

My birthday is also Martha’s feast day, and I have real affection and respect for her. She had as strong a faith as any man or woman (excepting Our Lady) in the NT. Check out John 11:17-27. Her frank, open dialogue with Our Lord is admirable, in my opinion. That being said, I would tend to agree with your comments about “a time and a place for everything”. In the presence of Jesus, Mary chose the better part by simply sitting at his feet and adoring him. I think another very strong interpretation of this passage is Jesus’ affirmation that the contemplative life is higher than the active life.


The priest at Mass yesterday focused most of his homily on the epistle and “suffering”.

However, he did offer brief commentary on the Holy Gospel. He said that if Martha didn’t do all that work, Jesus would have gone hungry that evening. He also said that if Mary hadn’t sat with Jesus and kept Him company all night, He would have been lonely.

I don’t know if that’s what Luke had in mind, but I see the priest’s point. :shrug:


We don’t need to get into high flown ideas about contemplation, IMNAAHO, to understand this passage.

As important as doing housework can be (some things can wait), preparing our relationship to our LORD should always be a priority. In the life everlasting, there will be no households to maintain, but we will be with HIM.



I think the problem is that some of us look at our business as a virtue, when in reality we may be distracting ourselves by doing all kinds of things that are not that important. I have a friend who thinks he is virtuous by working 70 hours a week. Why is he doing this? To support his well educated thirtysomethings who won’t launch. With him supporting them, why should they launch?


My priest made a great marginal point that really stuck with me more than the core story.

While it’s good to serve and be busy, what is your spirit while you do it? Are you being generous and serving from a spirit of joy, or are you being a martyr and being a travel agent for guilt trips?


On a personal side, I think a big problem is that Martha was anxious and troubled, that makes me think she was almost resentful that all these people were in her house, while Mary was at peace because she recognized the presence of Jesus.

In his homily yesterday, our priest talked about how in our lives we may fall into a trap of business that takes away from our prayer. How many families are so busy on the weekends that they don’t make it to mass? How many of us fail to even say a daily prayer? When we have the opportunity to build our relationship with Jesus, and to listen to him, that is what we should make tame for and let everything else take a back seat.


Yep. I have always understood this story to speak to the fact that we often busy ourselves worrying about this life and never leaving enough time to listen to Christ in order to come closer to God.

In light of the first two readings I think it speaks to the need to balance serving others while not actually neglecting those we are to serve.



Thanks for all of the replies on your thoughts regarding Martha and Mary. But what I am really struggling with is the Gospel in light of the other 2 readings. I am having a hard time understanding why we had these 2 readings before the gospel? Unless the point of the earlier 2 readings was to point out the necessity for good works, but also being able to put those good works on hold when it is time to be with the Lord?


The church needs cleaning, but you would not do this during mass. Tea and coffee is often served after mass, but you should not walk out of mass to prepare drinks. Jesus did not tell Martha off, so it seems she was not doing anything wrong.

Abraham asked the travellers if they wanted food, and they said yes, so it seems the circumstances were different. Martha just assumed Jesus would want serving, she did not ask him, but rather, she complained about Mary not helping instead.

just a thought.


The best thing that comes out to me in yesterday’s Gospel reading is that our Holy Blessed Mother, our model and spiritual Mother, is both contemplative and active.

She was active in that she went to the market, cooked food, and other household chores. However, while doing these chores she was perfectly in the presence of the Lord, as we should strive to be.

She is contemplative in that her Immaculate Heart is one with the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

As our Mother and model, we can learn so much from her!


If you look at the first reading, you see Abraham getting to be in the presence of the Lord. When you consider the responsorial psalm “he who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord”, you can see that this is true of Abraham. He has served the will of God and is rewarded with time in his presence.

Sarah is serving in a different way, as she is preparing the bread. Abraham is told that she will be visited in a year and will have a son, so her service is rewarded as well.

In the psalm, we see a brief outline on how to serve the Lord. In the second reading, we see Paul explaining his service and sufferings for the Lord.

Then we have the Gospel which at first seems counter to this. Martha is serving, yet Mary seems to be enjoying the reward of the presence of the Lord while not helping. Why is this?

while pondering this in the past, I found the following two articles from Joe Heschmeyer very insightful and helped to put things in perspective for me:

Simon and Mary: Learning from the TWO Anointings of Christ

The Two Liturgical Rules I Wish Everyone Would Follow

The stories of Mary’s anointing of Jesus are quite helpful to understanding Jesus’ response to Martha.

First, in Luke 7:36-50, we see Mary anointing Jesus early in his ministry. She washes his feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair and anointed him with oil. Simon the Pharisee is outraged that Jesus is letting such a sinful woman touch him, but Jesus then uses a parable to correct Simon and praise Mary’s humble and repentant actions. Then, in Luke 8:1-3, we see that Mary begins following Jesus and the twelve and, along with the other women, “provide for them out of their means.”

We then have Mary anointing Jesus a second time shortly before his passion (Matthew 26:6-13 Mark 14:3-9 John 12:1-8). This time with even more oil worth 300 denarii. We then see Judas outraged because this money could have been used for the poor, yet we see in John 12:6 that this is actually because Judas was a thief and as the money box holder, was stealing from this money.

If we look back to Luke 8:1-3 where we are told Mary was one of the ones providing for the apostles, we can see why he was so outraged as one of their financers was “wasting” money on expensive oil instead of putting it where Judas could get his hands on it.

Then in John 12:7-8, we see Jesus foreshadowing his death and praising Mary’s actions: "7 Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. 8. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

We then have Mary going a third time to anoint the Lord in Mark 16:1 and John 20:1-3. Mary finds not a body to be anointed, but that our Lord has risen and she is sent to tell the disciples.

In the first anointing, we see that Mary has dedicated herself to serving the Lord. In the second anointing, we see Jesus showing that the things of the world will always be here (service, suffering, chores, poverty, money, etc…) yet he will not. In the third anointing, we see Mary being sent away from Jesus in “service”, being sent to tell the apostles what she has seen.

When we apply all this to the situation with Martha, we can see that Mary is being used as an example to teach others two important lessons: That those who do justice will live in the presence of the Lord, and that we should not let the things of this world distract us from living in the presence of the Lord.


Although it is good to perform everyday maintenance, that is not what is meant by good works, per se.

If someone is in genuine need, that would be a “good work” that would take priority over leaning on our LORD to fellowship with Him. But routine tasks would not be, as most can wait, to an extent.



This. Especially for all those that believe that the Church has no respect for women.


I’m a little confused by your response? I agree your routine tasks for yourself wouldn’t be considered good works. But I was addressing the first 2 readings. What would be considered the everyday maintenance in the first 2 readings?


There was also this “User’s Guide to Sunday, July 17” posted on National Catholic Register this weekend: and the Good Samaritan


In re-reading the gospel story, I noticed that it said, “Martha opened her house to him”.
So it was her house and she felt responsible for EVERYTHING. She was probably so stressed out and running around like a chicken with its head cut off–to quote an old saying. I don’t think Jesus was rebuking Martha for her service to him, but he did say, “Martha, Martha, you are so worried about so many things, when only a few are needed.” He might have been telling her not to worry so much, he’d be just as happy with a little meat and bread–it didn’t have to be a banquet. She was over-doing it. Maybe Mary had helped, but she stopped at one point to listen to Jesus…maybe Martha should have done the same.

I really liked our pastor’s homily. He said that even those who are busy “working for God” must take time to sit in God’s presence. If they don’t, their ministry will become unfruitful and dried up–their ministry will reflect their own spiritual health. You end up “working for God without God.”

I agree with your own thoughts, that life is a balance between works and sitting in the Lord’s presence. I think all the readings fit together because they each show service to the Lord–Paul, in Colossians, said that he had become a servant of the church; Abraham was a servant to the 3 visitors, and Martha was a servant to our Lord. Our ultimate servant was the Lord himself, and the scripture tells of the many times that Jesus went off to a quiet place by himself to pray.



That’s what I was looking for. :thumbsup:

This part sums it all up for me. It is what I was wondering if this was the meaning:

This is what God wants — not a people who are just outwardly Good Samaritans, Marthas who solve the world’s promises on their own, but people who “choose the better part” — him — and work to do his will on earth as it is in heaven.

I like how the article tied all three readings together.

Well said. :clapping:

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