For the Feast of St. Martha

We hear of Saint Martha in two principal passages of the Bible. In the first, Jesus has come to the home of Martha and Mary, sisters of Lazarus.

From Luke 10:37-42

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Our second passage from Saint Martha occurs in the Gospel according to Saint John, and happens as Jesus is traveling to Bethany, upon hearing his friend, and brother of Martha and Mary, Lazarus, has died.

From John 11:19-27

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died].
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

In the first passage it is easy to focus too much on what seems to be Jesus’ admonishment of Martha for worrying too much about the affairs of this world. But it is Martha’s great love of God that leads her to such a spirit of hospitality.

That great love she has for God, for Christ, is lived out in the second passage, when Christ poses Martha with perhaps the one essential question of scripture.

Jesus sums up for her the gospel message of his divinity: “I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

Then, Jesus asks her that essential question — the question we must all answer in our walk of faith: “Do you believe this?”

Martha does not equivocate or dig deep into scriptural references. She simply gives the one answer we must give, if we follow Christ: “Yes, Lord.” And she follows with a very concise explanation of what we believe: “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

Martha’s simple and profound words are beautiful in their conviction, and should stand beside the Blessed Virgin Mary’s unwavering courage at the Annunciation, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word;” and Peter’s affirmation of Christ: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Lord Christ, your servant Martha had the strength of heart and body to love you in service and to proclaim you in word. Give us likewise the strength, the discernment, and the unwavering faith to ever love and serve you, through serving others and by professing You as Christ our Savior. Amen.

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