16th Sun [C] 2007

Fr. Charles Irvin

Genesis 18:1-10; Colossians 1:24-28; Luke 10:38-42


One day a cruel hunter killed a beautiful mother eagle. A chicken full of compassion took the eagle’s egg from its nest and put it with her own eggs. It was a bit uncomfortable because the eagle’s egg was considerably bigger. But that detail isn’t of any significance for us here. I just thought I would mention it. When the egg hatched the farmer named the baby eagle “Chicky” and treated her as he treated all baby chickens. As she was growing she just assumed that she was a chicken like the others.

One day “Chicky” saw some birds flying high in the sky. How “Chicky” envied those birds in the sky! She so much wished she could fly like they did. Unfortunately, no one told her that she was an eagle and could fly high up into the heavens.


Then one day a stranger came into the barnyard, caught sight of “Chicky” and instantly recognized what she was. He took her out into a nearby field and began to make her hop from his finger onto the ground. Gradually he increased the height of her perch on his hand. When he thought she was ready he threw his arm up high so she would fly. And she did. Oh, how she flew!


Then she circled around the stranger’s head, gave him a screech, and flew off into the blue sky above.


How many of you can see where they story’s going? Good. Then you can understand today’s gospel.


Let me ask you now: How often do you choose the lesser part? How often to you listen to that voice within you telling you that you really don’t amount to much? When you’re offered something really nice, really fine, do you feel you don’t deserve it? Do you feel like it would be selfish of you to accept such a gift?


Too often, I’m afraid, we sell ourselves short. Too often, when it comes to developing our relationship with Jesus, we tell ourselves we’re unworthy sinners, that we’re no good, or any number of other things that, if we really thought about it, were really excuses. Oh, we say we want to be close to Jesus, but when the time comes we feel it might make demands on us that we’re not really willing to meet.


Some people mistakenly judge their worth and their importance by the number of things they have to do. Doing things and being busy make them feel like they’re accomplishing a whole lot and are therefore important, a cut above others.


Don’t get me wrong. Caring for others is important – very important. Jesus, a true son of Abraham, would certainly affirm Martha’s generosity in meeting his very human need for food. So that we do not miss this point, St. Luke places the passage we just heard immediately after Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan, the man who responded with great generosity to the needs of a man who had fallen victim to robbers. You will remember last weekend we paid attention to the parable of the Good Samaritan.


To be a disciple of Jesus means that we are willing to respond with generosity to people in need of the basic necessities of life. That’s what Jesus himself did, and the Good Samaritan parable remains an essential part of his teaching. But so is today’s Gospel reading, which follows immediately after the lesson of the Good Samaritan… but for a reason.

Many of us have been seduced by what has been called the heresy of good works. We neglect Jesus’ company. Our prayer life grinds to a screeching halt and goes off the boards. We disregard His invitation to come apart and rest awhile. We forget the wisdom advising us that if Christians do not come apart and rest awhile, they may just simply come apart. As the man says, if we are too busy to pray, we are too busy. After all, God speaks only to those who take time to listen. We should reflect on one of Thomas Merton’s lines: “…it is becoming increasingly evident that the only people in the world who are happy are the ones who know how to pray.”

Mary knew Jesus needed company that day when he came for a visit at their house. She knew He needed not a housekeeper but a listener.


And He still does. If we are to be about His work we must be in conversation with Him. How can we be doing what He wants us to do if we don’t pay attention to what He’s trying to say to us? How can we fly like eagles if we’re scurrying about though our lives pecking and picking at things like chickens? If Jesus comes into our space and wants to take us out far afield with Him and teach us how to fly, will we choose the better part?


Someone once observed that a poverty of life can result from an overabundance of opportunity. We attempt to keep all of our options open and in doing so never make a committed decision. We can be so concerned about the welfare of others than we neglect to care for our own welfare. We can be so concerned with the problems of others that we never pay adequate attention to our own problems. There are people who avoid facing their own issues by paying attention to everyone else’s issues.


Jesus said: “Seek first the kingdom of God and everything else you need will be given to you.” The same might be said about seeking first to hear God’s voice. He’s here, you know. He’s trying to tell you that you’re not a little chicky – that you’re an eagle. He’s trying to tell you that you can spiritually fly. You can soar like an eagle into the heavens.


So stop listening to voices of this world – those voices that tell you that God doesn’t care, that you’re no good, that spiritually you’ll never amount to much. Stop listening to those who want to keep you down at their level, pecking and scratching your way through life.


Choose the better part.


About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”