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Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Many people, especially feminists, might feel that Jesus was being very unfair to Martha, who was heroically trying single-handedly to provide him with the best possible hospitality. She must have felt flustered and unappreciated. However, the Lord knew that Martha - who unusually was head of the household - had allowed her busyness to take possession of her. This gave her no time for quiet reflection or to be present to her guest. Mary, on the other hand, was sitting as a disciple at the master’s feet: a great privilege, especially for a woman.

Those who work in active ministry in the church know that they must spend time in prayer, encountering God in the silence, who will refresh, restore and guide them on the right path. If they don’t take advantage of this opportunity, they will burn out.

John presents a picture of a Martha who is still plain-spoken but who has matured as a disciple. She was thus able to engage with Jesus in one of the most beautiful dialogues of the New Testament. Martha met Jesus as he approached their house after Lazarus had been buried. In respose to Martha’s faith that her brother would rise again on the last day, Jesus told her: “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha replied as Peter (Matt 16:16) had done: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the son of God, the one coming into the world” (John 11:20-28).