Sacred Heart

Catholic Church

Imlay City, Michigan  Tel: (810) 724-1135

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Fr. Paul Ward

Sat. & Sun., July 16 & 17, 2016
16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C


The Preeminence of Prayer



   Today the liturgy provides many excellent points of reflection. I shall choose this one from among them for today’s homily: the preeminence of prayer over action. The lesson is incredibly clear in today’s Gospel passage.

   Before proceeding, there is this reminder. Please note that the blueberry festival is a bit different this year. It seems that, because of construction, they decided to make the parade earlier and shorter. Therefore, instead of moving Mass an hour earlier, as in previous years, we’ll move it to an hour later. On Saturday, July 23, therefore, confessions will be at 5pm, and Mass at 6pm.

   Now to our topic. Today we see Martha and Mary, Martha who is busy, Mary who is still; Martha, who tells the Lord what he must do, “Tell my sister…” and Mary who is silent and listens to the Lord Jesus and his sacred Word. These two women present to us the paradigm of action and contemplation in the service of our Lord as faithful Catholics.

   Then Jesus pronounces his judgment: not that Martha has done any evil, but that Mary has chosen what was better. The word “better” implies that the other element of comparison is not evil, but good. Martha was doing what was good, Mary what was better. The difference between the good and the better penetrates many dimensions of our Catholic life, from how we pray, to how we live the virtues, to the choices of life that one makes.

   Let us then take note that prayer, contemplation, listening to the Word of God as Mary did, is better than action. This is why the entrance antiphon of today’s Mass quotes the Psalm, “The Lord sustains my soul.” One’s own action, projects, possessions, hobbies, diet or studies to not sustain one’s soul: it is the Lord who does so, because prayer is greater than action.

   Sometimes it happens that someone is confronted with some difficulty in life, and they come asking, “What should I do, which way should I go?”, looking for counsel. While the practical matters of what to do, practically, are important and cannot be omitted, nonetheless these souls often skip over that most important first step, without which, every other step would be useless: the need to pray.

   Recently, some of our excellent parish teenagers were together. One posed a problem for all of us, who were present, to deliberate. She had an uncle, who, being a godparent to her, had left the Church. With the most upright spiritual affection, she longed to see him return to the Church, so she fielded the problem to obtain counsel. Another one of the teenagers spoke up first, and said very simply: “Pray!” Yes, God can do everything, for he is almighty and full of love for us, and the Son of God reminds us, “Without me, you can do nothing” (Jn 15). Let us pray for one another. See how fruitful a very simple spiritual conversation can be? And see how effective even a teenager can be in promoting the Catholic faith? Let us all learn from the example of both of these teenagers, and also of Mary, making prayer our first plan of action both in our interior life, and in our exterior apostolate.

   Let us also remember when we pray, that it is not that God has been busy, and, by praying, we tap him on the shoulder to get his attention. He is always speaking his Word to us, ceaselessly, and when we pray, we cease to be the busy-Martha, and start to be the listening-Mary. The Lord is always speaking to us, knocking on the door of our hearts. This is one of the senses of today’s Communion Antiphon, where we will hear those beautiful words from the book of Revelation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, says the Lord. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door to me, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.”

    Let us open the door of our minds and hearts and let Christ in, and then in Communion invite him into our very bodies, so we may persevere in the love of union with Christ, in imitation of the most perfect Mary, Virgin of Prayer, Amen.

















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