We don’t live by ‘rice’ alone

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WORD Alive 16th Sunday Ordinary Time

by Fr Bel San Luis SVD

In the gospel of this 16th Sunday, we can discern two forms of spirituality as symbolized by the two sisters Martha and Mary. The busybody Martha symbolizes action or work, while Mary represents contemplation or prayer. Martha is the “activist,” Mary the “contemplative” and their brother Lazarus? Well, he died and was raised to life; hence, the “passivist.”

Martha is so upset and preoccupied about preparing a nice meal. She has become high-strung, and even snaps at Jesus! I’ve always been amused of Martha how she brashly orders Jesus, saying, “Lord are you not concerned that my sister has left me all alone to do the household tasks? Tell her to help me.” Jesus did not retort: “Don’t you know whom you’re ordering?” Instead, Christ gently reproves her: “Martha, Martha! You fret and worry about so many things, but just one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best portion” (Lk 10,41).

The Lord’s statement obviously does not mean contempt for her household preoccupation nor our material concerns. Christ is taking the opportunity to teach that we should not neglect our more important spiritual need. He was repeating what he said before: “Man does not live by ‘rice’ (our staple food) alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

There’s a true story about a father who came to a parent-teacher conference. During a talk with one of his son’s teachers, the father broke down and began to cry. After he regained his composure, the father apologized, saying, “My son no longer lives with me. But I still love him, and I want to know how he’s doing in school.”

The father then told the teacher how his wife and four children had left him some days ago. He was a building contractor and sometimes worked 16 hours a day. Naturally, he saw little of his family, and they slowly grew farther and farther apart.

The father confided something sad, saying: “I wanted to buy my wife and kids all those things I had dreamed of giving them. But in the process, I got so involved in working that I forgot about what they needed most: a father who was around at nights to give them love and support.”

There is a subtle enemy that can erode a family, that is, work. More than that, it can also wear out our relationship with God. As much as we need to work, we need likewise time for prayer, meditation, reading of the Scripture, and attend Mass. Like that contractor, we can get so involved in pursuing the things money can buy that we forget about the things money can not buy—the joy of togetherness as a family or caring the less fortunate, and time with the Lord.

The Sunday gospel is a timely reminder that in the midst of our hectic, worldly preoccupations, of making a living or our frenetic drive to make more money. What matters most, IN THE END, is our relationship with God.

THE LIGHTER SIDE: Employee: Sir, do you pray? Manager: Walang oras. E: Do you go out with your family for bonding? M: Walang oras. E: Do you go to church with your family? M: Walang oras. E.: Do you go out drinking with barkada? M: WALONG oras!

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Chip in an amount or sponsor a seminarian’s schooling for one year. For inquiry, e-mail me at: belsvd@gmail.com.

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