I once had a family in therapy. The father was working 16 to 18 hours each day and therefore was rarely at home. After sometime, the children began to exhibit behavioral problems at school and their grades were dropping drastically. His wife found emotional support outside of the home and found consolation in her three kids. In one of our therapy sessions, the father was raving about how he was working so hard to put food on the table and to buy them the things they want and need and that “Nobody seems to appreciate me around here”. Just as he finished, his little seven-year-old boy said, “Dad, one day, you will come back and there will be no body here to eat your food”. And so it happened! It did not take long before his wife moved out with the kids and he was left with an empty house. One Monday afternoon, he came to meet with me and said, “Father, you know, I was only trying to give them the best I could but, I guess, in the process I got so involved in working that I forgot about what they needed most—a father who was around to play with them; to give them a sense of security, love, and support.”
The gospel of this 16th Sunday in ordinary times, year C (Luke 10:38-42), gives life to the message of this story. The gospel is about the story of Mary and Martha where Martha was so involved in trying to entertain Jesus that she had no time for Jesus, her guest. One of the tragic things about life is that we can get so involved in what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it; get so involved in pursuing the things money can buy that we forget or even lose the things money cannot buy; get so busy doing the work of God that we forget the God of the work; get so distracted with too many activities that we hardly have time for any spiritual reflection; focus so much on the education of our children but pay little or no attention to their spiritual growth; have time for social activities but little or no time for praying or studying the word of God. Isn’t it amazing that many people are willing to go to social gatherings but are afraid to come to Church because they are afraid to catch Covid, Really! People will go to wedding parties but not the wedding liturgy.
I used to play college volleyball, and in volleyball, just as in basketball, there is something called “Time Out”—a brief time you can take during the game for the team to quickly reevaluate their gameplan and catch some breath in an attempt to keep the pressure up or turn the tide of the game. The gospels tell us that many a time, Jesus withdrew with his disciples to be alone by themselves, and the event of today’s gospel reading is one of such times. Busy as we may be, it is very important that we find it worthy to take a time-out; a timeout to sit at the foot of Jesus, be it during Mass, before the Blessed Sacrament, during adoration, in the garden, in our rooms, or anywhere we find most convenient. In today’s gospel, all that Mary was doing was to have some close moments with Jesus— paying attention to the guest, which is what matters most. It is important that we do the same with the things that matter most in life. A timeout from work just to relax, to be with family/friends, and to refresh; a timeout, as parents, to evaluate your parenting style and the business of being a family; a timeout, as a couple, to review how your marriage is going and how much emotional units you are depositing into your relationship; a timeout, as a father/mother, to be with your children and teach them life-values and spirituality; a timeout, as a young adult, to evaluate where your life is in relation to God, yourself, and the world; a timeout, as a teenager, to evaluate who you are and where you are headed in life; a timeout, as a priest, to understand what your call is all about and how you are responding to it, etc. Scripture says, “What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” and to that we can add, “What shall it profit a man if he gains all the money, power and fame and loses himself, his family, his friends and God in the process?” May the good Lord grant us the grace of taking timeouts for the things that matter most in life, especially about God!