Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Our readings for Sunday are here.  Sorry for the delay and rapid release of several weeks … the long trip to Montana followed by 8-day silent retreat whooshed July away!

These are the poems, my notes, and interpretations of Fr Dennis’ homilies from the

  • July 21, 2013


The poems Fr Dennis references in these years are:

This must have been one of my early or lighter notetaking Sundays, perhaps one of my first.

In 2013, we reflected on such wonderful readings and good insights.  Thanks, D2!  —

  • In the first reading,
    • Abraham and Sarah are hosting a trio of Angels, some think the Trinity.  (A quick biblical note, “the Trinity” is not mentioned in the Christian or Hebrew Scriptures; the Trinity is a theological understanding of God that developed over time and from the scriptures — including this one and the multiple “Trinitarian formulations” in Christian scripture, e.g., invocations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.)
    • In Gen 18:1, “the Lord appeared to Abraham” and in Gen 18:2, “… Abraham saw three men standing nearby” and then addresses them as “Sir” in 18:3.
    • But the emphasis of the first reading (and the other two) is hospitality and invitation.  Abraham portrays the urgency of presence and welcome, in accordance with custom of the time and with later Christian scripture proclaiming “Do not neglect hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Heb 13:2).
  • In the gospel of Luke,
    • the story also emphasizes hospitality and prayer, with presence being the key to either ministry or engagement.  The acts of hospitality and the motions of prayer do not fulfill hospitality and prayer without our heartfelt or mindful presence in these efforts.
    • Martha is “anxious and worried about many things” (Lk 10:41), while Mary is present with Jesus in breaking open scripture.
    • Mary could have been worried about violating social norms of women and religion, but she remained present to Love.  Martha could have been present to hospitality as Abraham was, who served his guests, and then “waited on them under the tree while they ate” (Gen 18:8).
  • In Martha Manning’s Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface
    • Fr Dennis thought that Martha Manning’s book captured the sense of balance for each of us in our Martha and Mary.
    • This is the memoir of an ordinary woman—a mother, a daughter, a psychologist, a wife—who tells the tale of her spiraling descent into a severe, debilitating depression. Undercurrents pioneers a new literature about women and depression that offers a vision of action instead of victimhood, hope instead of despair.
    • We need faith that nothing is “taken away” when we rest, that is part of the contemplative nature of the Kin-dom.

For myself, I found the enthusiasm of Abraham in hospitality — in light of he and Sarah’s challenges in Jewish culture of the day from wandering, being landless for so long, and childless — captured in Mary Oliver’s poem Why I Wake Early, when she writes a poem of gratitude and ends, “Watch now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”  These choices not only bless and uphold wandering angels, they bless and uphold us.

Similarly, for the gospel, the invitation to and teaching of presence by Jesus, was captured in Mary Oliver’s Freshen the Flowers, She Said, in which she ends a poem about being present to fluffing cut flowers in a vase with “… Fifteen minutes of music // with nothing playing.”  

Andrei Rublev’s Trinity (not the tennis player or the film) or dinner at Mamre is the lead picture, but how could I not include daisies after going on such a run with Mary Oliver?!  🙂

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