Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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16th Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 22, 2007 - Year:C
Gen. 18:1-10a; Col. 1:24-8; Lk. 10:38-42
There is need of only one thing.

First Reading...
“The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as Abraham sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.

He said, ‘My Lord, if I find favour with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on - since you have come to your servant.’ So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’

And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.’ Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them: and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

They said to Abraham, ‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ And he said, ‘There in the tent.’

Then one said, ‘I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.’” [Gen. 18:1-10a]

Second Reading...
“I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.

I became its servant according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints.

To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. It is Christ whom we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone in all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” [Col. 1:24-8]

Gospel Reading...
“Now as Jesus and his disciples went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’

But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’ “[Lk. 10:38-42]

An elderly carpenter was ready to retire. He told his employer, a building contractor, of his plans to leave the house building business and live a more leisurely life with his wife enjoying his extended family. He would miss the paycheck, but he needed to retire. They could get by.

His employer was sorry to see his good worker go and asked if he could build just one more house as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, but it was easy to see that his heart was no longer in his work. He had lost his enthusiasm and had resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials. It was an unfortunate way to end his career.

When the carpenter finished his work and his boss came to inspect the new house, the contractor handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you."

What a shock! What a shame! If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.

So it is with us. We build our lives in a distracted way, reacting rather than acting, willing to put up less than the best. At important points we do not give the job our best effort. Then with a shock we look at the situation we have created and find that we are now living in the house we have built for ourselves. If we had realized, we would have done it differently. 

Moral: We all have the capacity to do only one thing at a time. But we are all distracted, aren’t we? Distracted thinking about others. Even when we are in the church, we are too much concerned about what others wear? How do they look? What kind of ornaments they wear? All these distractions and added worries of home, work, relationships etc. This is our life. All the time we live in such a hectic way that we lose our health and lose our temper and we continuously lose our steadfastness

“There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” [Lk. 10:42] Intentionally or unintentionally, Mary chose the better part, to listen to the Word of the Lord that enriches the soul.

Jesus never said, Mary has chosen the best part. He just said that she chose a better part than Martha. Martha would have been equal to Mary if she had not grumbled. Work and Prayer both are important, but when we do two things together, then the focus lessens and we would be in trouble and at the same the work done would be of lesser quality.

There was a man whose daily task involved carrying water and chopping wood. He was a simple man, but he was beset with a lot of tension and anxiety. This took a toll on his work and once, while chopping wood, he chopped off his toe. On several occasions, while carrying water, he broke earthen vessels. Well, there came a guru to that region, claiming that he would help people reach enlightenment. That news reached our woodchopper and he decided he would meet the guru and give him a try. The villagers were astonished that this simple man was taking such a bold step. They came up with all kinds of reasons for his sudden behaviour. But that’s a different story altogether. When the woodchopper returned after spending close to six months with the guru, the villagers were very keen on learning what this enlightenment really meant. Their curiosity turned to gossiping. Some of the villagers wagered that enlightenment or no enlightenment, he would continue to work as before. Soon their words seemed well-founded - there were no real signs of difference in the man and in his work. Finally, the villagers decided to ask the man about his attempt at enlightenment, and whether he had really attained it at all. The woodchopper replied, ‘Before enlightenment, I was chopping wood, but in the process of chopping wood, I wanted to chop off the heads of many of my enemies. Now I am chopping wood and nothing else. Before when I carried water in earthen vessels, I imagined myself to be a great person, carrying a lot of fame, name and honour. Now, when I carry water, I just carry water and nothing else. In fact, my guru taught me just that, and he called it enlightenment.’

Real Situation in Life
Our life often becomes a chain of anxieties and worries. We must get to the top. We must impress people. We must come to terms with our problems. We must get the better of others. Often our anxieties revolve around our struggles to get all that we desire in life. We never seem to exactly understand what is meant by freedom, liberation or enlightenment, even though we desire them wholeheartedly. Somehow we want to take on more, even though we are busy doing a thing or two at the same time. 

We are called to Freedom or Enlightenment
Enlightenment is the birthright of each and every individual. We are all called to be free. Why then are we so anxious and worried about things that have no importance at the moment? When we speak of freedom, enlightenment or liberation, we speak from our heart and mind. We must try to do only one thing at a time, in order to experience something of these noble values of life. 

Happiest People
The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way, and they do this simply because they have learnt the art of doing one thing at a time. You cannot be happy, when you do many things at a time. To make the most of everything, you must try to do a thing fully and, absorbingly. You must enjoy it thoroughly. Happiness can come to us only when we enjoy what we do. And this requires that you do only one thing at a time. 

We Are Accustomed
We are often accustomed to do many things at a time. This behaviour has become a part of our life, due to a number of reasons our early formation, childhood, pressure from home and school, and perhaps, also from our own society. We recall our childhood when we were pushed into doing too many things at a time. Failure to do them meant that we would be punished and not appreciated. Well, complying became so much a part of our life that we just imitated what others were doing, losing out consequently on a lot of freedom and peace. 

The Better Part
When Jesus visited the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, there was a moment when Martha complained about things that Mary did not do. To make her point, she pointed out that fact that she had been left alone to do the serving. Jesus was very appreciative of Mary because she listened to him, where as he was not so happy about Martha, even though she was busy in serving him. In the process of answering Martha, Jesus opined that Mary had chosen the better part, and what Martha really had to do was focus on the one thing that she was doing, namely serving.
He affirmed that Mary had chosen only the better part, not the best one. 

Dispersion of Energy
We need to plan, always. We need to plan the day, the present hour, the present moment. Nothing should be amiss. Yet, at times, we are pushed into certain unforeseen works. That can’t be helped, because life is like that. But what we can also do is to make it a habit of focussing our attention on doing only one thing at a time. This attitude can generate serenity within us, and we can hope to accomplish a lot of things in a day. 

Fixed Programmes
Often we need to give much attention to programs already in place. If you notice, you do your best in programs fixed a month, a year or two or three years in advance. Never give up a commitment you have accepted, unless unavoidable circumstances or situations arise. Keeping commitments is the reflection of faithfulness, which pleases God, and paves the way to freedom and peace. 

Attention to Priorities
Steven Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, gives a series of suggestions, as to how we can use our time and talents. In one of his suggestions, he brings out forcefully the importance of paying attention to fixing priorities in life and getting them realized. We should never sacrifice important things at the cost of less important things. The whole of our attention should be focussed on our priorities, without sacrificing the preciousness of being attentive to ourselves at all time. 

Moderation means not going to extremes. In this modern world, we miss this virtue of moderation. We are all victims of overdoing certain things. I can point out a few of the things that practically do not allow us to be at peace with ourselves. Television programmes and, serials, eating, drinking, and talking habits, and also certain habits that are wasteful and sinful.  

Regularity involves following a consistent routine. Regularity helps build us up. When you are occupied with a number of different things, you tend to feel exhausted, defeated, and at times, even psychologically, and spiritually depleted. Regularity in activity is a must if we are to maintain some kind of balance in life. Look at Jesus, he would go early in the morning to pray, and then again at night when he was alone and all was quiet. 

Rest means rest. When resting, you do not do anything more than just recline and let go. We all need to learn the technique of resting. We know that in the midst of a strong storm, Jesus rested, and when the disciples roused him, he said, “You people of little faith, why were you worried?” Then to calm them and free them from fear, Jesus stopped the storm and stilled the ocean. Can we really rest in the midst of a storm? Practically not, right? If you can, then that is the outcome of your deepened faith in God.

In view of our better understanding of “There is need of only one thing,” and “Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her,” [Lk. 10:42] let us fix our eyes on God so we too may be spiritually enriched. May this week be rich in blessings to all of us as we strive towards the need of only one thing, hearing the Word of God so we may productively live our faith in Christ. May the grace of God be with all of you this week to do only one thing at a time.

  Click here for other Sunday Homilies 

A New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a serious exegetical study on the important words and texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East, Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can be ordered through email: or

The cost of the book is Rs. 125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza, OCD, MA. PhD.

Dear friend, my homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit them and if you need more resources, you could contact me on or

Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 




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