July 15, 2022

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Genesis provides us with the first reading for Mass this weekend. For the last century or more, Genesis has carried the heavy burden of being considered almost totally in terms of its creation narratives, but Genesis offers other important lessons.

For example, it tells us about Abraham, as is the case with this weekend’s reading.

Three men stand before Abraham, who receives them hospitably. He offers them drink and food as well as shelter from the hot sun and predators roaming for prey during the night. He tells his wife Sarah to prepare the best of foods.

Then, one of the men tells Abraham that within the year Sarah will give birth to a child. In the ancient Hebrew culture, nothing was more important that the arrival of a newborn. A child continued the life of his or her parents and humanity. Any infant, therefore, was a sign of unending life.

The man acknowledged Abraham’s devotion to God, seen in his hospitality.

For its second reading, the Church gives us a passage from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians, written when the Apostle was imprisoned, which happened regularly during his work of proclaiming the Gospel.

Yet, Paul still called the Christians in Colossae to fidelity. He insisted that he was commissioned by God to preach the Gospel. It was no task that he simply took upon himself. Rather, God called him to be an Apostle so that the world would know Christ. In Christ is God’s love. In Christ is God’s truth.

St. Luke’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is a familiar story. Jesus is in the home of Mary and Martha. He is their guest. Mary wants only to listen to Jesus. Martha is concerned about the details of being the Lord’s hostess.

Jesus counsels Martha not to worry about these details, but instead to listen—with Mary—to the words of salvation.


At times, this passage from Luke is used to suggest that Martha was either shortsighted or wanting in faith, whereas Mary was a true disciple. It should be recalled that Martha, in another reading, rushed to Jesus after the death of her brother Lazarus to express her faith in the Lord’s power to resurrect him.

Martha was hardly lacking in faith. In this story, Martha was human, confined by human concerns and limitations.

These three readings altogether teach us. We humans have our problems, and they may be legitimate problems. Sarah was unable to conceive a child. She was human. Her human age created problems.

People made no allowance for this natural circumstance. They ridiculed her, unable to have a child when childbearing was so important.

Paul was held captive by powerful but ignorant authorities, the enemies of God and true justice. Martha just was caught up in normal everyday demands of life.

Despite these problems, God entered the picture with salvation and hope. Nothing is impossible for God. Constraints of nature were not able to prevent Sarah’s motherhood. The mighty Roman Empire could not contain the power of Paul the Apostle. The hard and fast rules of the culture at the time could not restrain Jesus.

Important to the story in Luke is the Lord’s utter disregard for the taboo that a single man should never enter the home of a woman or women, or never take a meal with a woman.

The readings are about our need for God and about God’s will to be with us despite our limitations. He will come to us, with mercy and strength, if simply we are loyal, as was Abraham. †

As The Criterion will not have an issue next week due to its new summer schedule, the reflection of Msgr. Campion for Sunday, July 24, will be posted at www.archindy.org/campion.

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