For the Memorial of Saint Martha
The siblings, Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus have a dear and warm friendship with Christ.
The Gospels tell us Christ has seen other persons mourning and weeping at the death of a loved one— without telling us that Christ himself shed tears.
However, in the case of the death of St. Lazarus, the Gospel seems to stop in its tracks to tell us “Jesus wept” upon seeing St. Martha and St. Mary grieving.
In celebrating Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus, we celebrate the red-blooded, warm-blooded humanity of Christ.
In celebrating these saints, we also celebrate their own red-blooded, warm-blooded, human love and friendship for God in the person of Christ.
We also celebrate their love for each other as siblings and as Christians.
We also celebrate their faith in Christ.
We celebrate their prayerful listening to Christ.
We celebrate their death-defying obedience to Christ.
Today especially the Gospel shows us the great faith of St. Martha.
Four times today St. Martha declares her faith.
First she says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
St. Martha already believes that Christ has power and authority over life and death.
Then she adds:
I know that whatever you ask of God,
he will give you.
She already believes that the will of Christ coincides with the will of God.
She is not— for the moment— saying she believes Christ will raise her holy brother from the dead right now.
We know that, because she adds her third profession of faith.
I know my brother will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.
NOW Christ invites her to make a fourth, even more daring profession of faith.
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE.
Whoever believes in ME,
even if he dies,
and anyone who lives and believes in ME will never die.
Do you believe this?
St. Martha recognizes the full weight of the words of Christ.
She recognizes his claim to be the Divine Son of God, and she says so.
Yes, LORD …
… you are the CHRIST,
the SON OF GOD
In celebrating St. Martha, we celebrate the same profession of faith.
… you are the CHRIST,
the SON OF GOD
St. Mary, the sister of St. Martha, speaks hardly at all in the Gospel.
Nearly the only thing we hear her say is the same thing her sister first said.
if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
St. Mary has the same faith as her sister.
However, on another occasion, we saw St. Mary make a BETTER CHOICE than St. Martha.
Once when the Lord visited them, St. Martha anxiously drove and troubled herself to the point of distraction in her effort to serve their guest well.
Yet, the Lord himself told Martha that her sister had chosen well.
Her sister Mary sat at the Lord’s feet to listen to him teaching.
St. Mary is a model of prayer, attention and listening.
She is a model of holy or divine reading— lectio divina, as Latin calls it.
The Lord justifies Mary to her sister.
Martha, you are anxious and troubled about MANY things;
ONE thing is needful.
Mary has chosen the GOOD portion,
which shall not be taken away from her.
With St. Mary, we celebrate the fact that “one thing is needful”: the “good portion” of receiving the Lord’s teaching through our prayer and his word.
Like St. Mary, St. Lazarus was also attentive to the Lord’s word.
Like St. Martha, St. Lazarus also had faith.
Even after four days as a dead man rotting in his tomb, St. Lazarus obeyed when Christ stood his ground before the tomb and loudly shouted a command.
Lazarus, come out!
St. Lazarus— obedient from beyond the grave— rose back to life.
Because St. Lazarus was a powerful, living witness of obedience to Christ and the divine authority of Christ, the chief priests wanted to kill also Lazarus, and not only Jesus.
We don’t know if St. Lazarus died a martyr for Christ.
We know clearly he lived for Christ and because of Christ.
What we celebrate in the Gospel, what we celebrate in Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus, we also celebrate, worship and receive in the Eucharist, namely: the red-blooded, warm-blooded humanity of Christ, God himself, who is the resurrection and the life in flesh and blood.
As Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus long ago in the Gospel, so we now in the Eucharist!
As Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus already in heaven, our siblings and friends in the communion of saints— as they now, so one day we also with the help of their prayers!