July 17, 2016

Fr. Butler's Homily for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 17, 2016, Year C

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut

Jesus with Martha and Mary
(Click here for today’s readings)

In Jesus’ place, what would you have said to Martha? What would you have said to Mary?

I know what I would have said: “People are like snowflakes, no two are alike.”

It is one of my favorite sayings, which I often use in talks. Sometimes, when there are people in the audience who have never seen snow, I have to show pictures of snowflakes to help them see the point.

Probably Martha and Mary had seen snow. It’s mentioned often enough in the Old Testament. They certainly knew it was white, and that the melting snows in the mountains were important for the spring harvests. But the idea of snowflakes not being alike? Well, it’s a nice psychological idea. But the Gospels aren’t about psychology.

Still, the image helps us to see how Martha and Mary related differently to Jesus. So the psychological point has very important spiritual consequences.

Have you ever noticed that when you think of Jesus—outside of liturgy or personal prayer—you tend to think of him a certain way? Possibilities include:

The Baby in Bethlehem. The 12-yr-old who stayed behind in the Temple.

Jesus Crucified, Jesus Risen, Jesus in the Eucharist.

Jesus teaching (what is he teaching?), Jesus condemning hypocrisy.

Jesus forgiving, Jesus associating with sinners.

Jesus healing, Jesus feeding the multitude.

And there are many more possibilities. We all have a “favorite Jesus.” This is why there are four Gospels; each is a portrait of the “favorite Jesus” of the Evangelist or of the community for which he wrote. Each one has a different “take” on Jesus. Paul’s “favorite Jesus” emerges from his writings, too

We see something similar in the Old Testament. Abraham had unique relationship to God. So did Moses, so did the Prophets.

The way you relate to Jesus says more about you than him.

The way you relate to Jesus isn’t coincidence. It’s faith. Not just THE faith. It’s YOUR faith. In a sense it’s your vocation.

So... which Jesus is your favorite?

There is a proverb that says, “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” I would paraphrase it to read, “Tell me who your favorite Jesus is, and I’ll tell you who you are as a disciple, as a Christian.”

Follow THAT Jesus, and you will be true to YOUR faith, to YOUR vocation, and to yourself.

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