16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday, July 21, 2019
Fr. Kyle
Homily transcription: 

Mary has chosen the better part.  But what does Jesus mean by “the better part”.  What does it look like for us to “choose the better part”.   Well, let me share a story.

About a year ago my brother and sister-in-law came to visit me here in Ames along with their three young kids ages 7,5 and 7 months.  My 7 year-old niece loved butterflies.  At home she would catch caterpillars and put them in a jar with milkweed to see them become a butterfly.  So I figured it would be perfect to take them to Reiman Gardens to see the butterfly aviary.  I walked into Reiman Gardens with my 7 month-old nephew in one of those carriers on my chest and the lady at the desk told me I had a really cute son.  I simply said “Well thank you very much”, and didn’t explain that I was a priest.  Anyway, after getting the tickets we were given maps of the gardens and then we went into the butterfly aviary.  When inside, my niece spent most of the time looking at her map trying to plan out where we were going to go and what we were going to do.  Surrounded by the natural beauty of butterflies of different colors and species, my niece was too distracted by the map to recognize the beauty all around her.  How much I wanted her to just put down the map and choose the “better part” and enjoy the butterflies around her.

Upon reflection I wondered how often I have done that.  How often I have been too distracted to recognize the beauty all round me.  How often does God take me to experience greatness and beauty and yet I only pay attention to my own plans and what I want to do and I miss the “better part”.  To apply it to the gospel, how often I am like Martha too busy doing things to recognize the presence of Christ right in front of me.

Now, before we go too far, don’t hear what I am not saying.  I am not saying setting out plans and getting things done is a bad thing.  I am not saying household things like dishes and laundry or making plans is bad.  We can’t all just be completely care-free spiritual hippies like I was in college.  Setting out plans and getting stuff done is a good thing.  Sometimes our action can become destraction.  But the gospel suggests that there is a “better part” and we cannot let the other things blind us from the joy and beauty of that better part.


Thinking back to my niece, she was trying to do a good thing.  She wanted to set out plans to see as much as we could.  But she was so consumed with that, that she missed the better part going on right around her.  How easy it is for us to be distracted by seemingly good things in our life, that we miss out on the greater joy and beauty that God has placed around us.  If we have the courage to choose the better part, then it will not be taken from us.