Fr Bob Writes – July 31, 2016

In our gospel this Sunday, Jesus is asked to mediate in a family quarrel over an inheritance, and refuses to be drawn into the dispute.  Below is a commentary by Fr Dempsey on this passage:

“Most people don’t get bent out of shape over issues of inheritance…who gets what and how things should be divided up.  Nevertheless, I have heard many an account of siblings at odds with one another, some not speaking to one another for years, over questions of inheritance.  In Jewish society at the time of Jesus, all the children in the family shared in the inheritance, the eldest son receiving a greater portion than the others.  The fellow in our gospel reading appeals to Jesus as an authority figure to support his case against his brother.  Who was most greedy, whether this  man or his brother or both, we don’t know, but it seems that both were putting a pretty high value on material possessions and that this conflict was dividing the family.

The parable that Jesus goes on to tell responds to that tendency and the ultimate vanity or waste of time and energy expended in acquiring and accumulating material possessions. ..how it robs people of greater relational and spiritual blessings.

Have you ever experienced a conflict with siblings over the distribution of a parent’s possessions?   How important are material things in your life?  We haven’t changed a great deal since Jesus’ time.  This reading is as counter-cultural today as it was back then.  What cultural values in our society tend to be at odds with the values Jesus encourages?  How can we best uphold the values of Jesus while being part of our North American society?

Fr Bob Writes – July 17, 2016

Both our first reading and gospel this Sunday show great examples of the gift of hospitality.  Hospitality was and is so much a part of the Middle Eastern culture.  It is engrained in the people.

In our first reading, Abraham invites three strangers to a meal and his offer is accepted.  To refuse hospitality would have been an insult.  Such was the culture of Abraham in which a man’s reputation was measured more by his generosity and hospitality than by his wealth or status in society.  Consider the amount of food set before Abraham’s three visitors.  Three measures of flour is the equivalent of a half bushel or 30 pounds of flour.  That’s a lot of rolls in addition to a whole roasted calf set before the visitors.  Such was the culture of hospitality in which Jesus would provide 150 gallons of choice wine for a wedding feast and feed 5,000 with twelve baskets of food left over.  The leftovers would not go to waste, but placing far more before the guests than they could eat was a mark of generous hospitality. What are some indicators of a person’s character or importance in our Canadian society?  Abraham did not show hospitality so as to get anything in return, but, through the visitors, God promises to be generous to Abraham in return by finally granting him a son through Sarah.  God is never outdone in generosity!!

Martha, in our gospel story, is in the same tradition as Abraham in showing hospitality.  Her sister Mary also shared the same basic attitude of showing hospitality to visitors, but she had different priorities than her sister in making Jesus welcome to their home.  The two attitudes are meant to be complementary, not in opposition to each other.  There is a time to be active in service of the Lord, as last week’s parable of the Good Samaritan shows, and there is a time to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen.  The trick lies in knowing when is the right time for what.

How would you show hospitality to Jesus should he come to your home?  How do you show Christian hospitality to others?