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Listening to God's Word PDF Print E-mail

21 July 2013: Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Martha took up the duties in the house.  Mary chose the better part.

Two sisters, Martha and Mary give hospitality to Jesus. Martha appears the dominant personality, appears to be more active and more practical. While her sister Mary simply sits at Jesus' feet and listens. Martha has fussed a lot in preparing too many dishes, when just one would have be sufficient, a simple casserole.

In recent times Martha has evoked more sympathy. Her complaint that she has been left to do all the work at one level seems justified. But this is precisely where the Gospel has its bite. Frenetic service, even to serve the Lord, can be a deceptive distraction from what the Lord wants of us. Good people measure their goodness by all the good they do for the Lord, forgetting they do also need to receive from the Lord, life, love and joy of salvation.

Jesus further corrects the assumption that a woman's main task is to bear children. In that strong Mediterranean climate, a village woman expresses her admiration of Jesus by praising his mother, for the only female traits that mattered in that culture, a fertile womb and breasts to nurse her children. Jesus sees it differently: child bearing is not everything. As important as motherhood is to a woman, there is something even more important, 'Blessed are they who hear God's word and keep it'.

The genius of women must be ever more vital strength of the Church of the next millennium, just as it was in the first Christian community.

Today's story from such a community holds the key to our own dilemma. Just as Jesus broke through gender boundaries of his own day, so too must we renew our commitment to ending anything that degrades, exploits and dehumanises women throughout the world.

On this note of equality and respect, Fr Frank Brennan, professor of law at ACU, said last week that change for the Church to draw distinction between a marriage recognised by civil law and a sacramental marriage was coming, as shown by two US Supreme Court rulings last month clearing the way for same sex marriage in California and striking down Congress' attempt to limit marriage to exclusive union of a man and a woman.

'It is high time to draw a distinction between a marriage recognised by a civil law and a sacramental marriage,' he wrote in the Eureka website on 11 July. 'In deciding whether to expand civil marriage to the union of two persons of the same gender, legislators should have regard not just for the wellbeing of same-sex couples and children already part of their family units, but also all future children who may be affected and the common good of society'.

Fr Brennan wrote that same sex couples wanting their own children may in the foreseeable future be able to use only their own genetic material, precluding the possibility that such children would have a biological father and a biological mother. "Whether or not we legislate for same-sex marriage, we should restrict artificial reproduction of children such that they will have a biological father and a biological mother, and hopefully able to be known by them." Fr Brennan said.

Image source: Hermanoleon Clipart