“Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” ~ Saint Martha
July has certainly been a great month to celebrate the holy women of the Catholic Church. Just last week was the Feast Day of Saint Mary Magdalene https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/The-Deep-and-Profound-Love-of-Mary-Magdalene. followed by the Patron Saint of Europe, Bridget of Sweden, the legendary mystic and founder of the Bridgettines Religious Order of nuns and monks. “The world would have peace if only men of politics would follow the Gospels,” she would often say, perhaps never truly realizing the profundity of those words, especially in the year 2020. Four days ago was the Feast Day of Saint Anne, the woman who bore the Queen of Heaven and was thus the grandmother of Jesus. Back in the first week of July, the 6th to be exact, we remembered the precocious Saint Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr of the Church who died in defense of her chastity at the age of 11 (...that is not a typo). Appearing to her imprisoned attacker after her death in a vision in order to forgive him, it would lead to his remarkable conversion while serving as an eternal example of the forgiveness that Christ calls each of us to.put into practice.
Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Martha, a devout and courageous Jewish woman from Bethany near Jerusalem. She grew to become a close friend of Jesus during his earthly ministry, as did her sister (the aforementioned ‘Mary of Bethany,’ or Saint Mary Magdalene) and her brother Lazarus, whom Jesus famously raised from the dead. The Gospels tell us that "Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus” (John 11:5), a love made evident by virtue of Jesus’ reaction upon learning of Lazarus’ passing; He wept.
Martha would serve the Lord dutifully whenever he was a guest in her home, once busying herself to such an extent that she inadvertently neglected to spend time basking in his presence, for which she earned a gentle rebuke and a great lesson, one which all of us can learn and grow from.
The Gospels tell us Martha testified to the fact that Jesus was the Son of God even before his Passion and Resurrection. According to tradition, after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven, she gathered a group of women together to live, pray, and do penance, one of the early Christian houses of consecrated women. Saint Martha is the Patron Saint of servers, maids, butlers, single laywomen, homemakers, housewives, and cooks.
“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?“ This was the bold statement and subsequent question posed by Jesus to Martha in today’s Gospel, prompting Martha to utter the words that kick off today’s reflection.
“Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” . . . I have come to believe. There’s a certain candor to these words that so many of us can relate to. Faith is a gift meant to flourish in time as we grow in the gifts of the Spirit. We accumulate these gifts ~ wisdom, knowledge, fortitude and the like ~ by way of the Sacraments, a burgeoning prayer life, daily recitation of the Holy Rosary and quiet time in adoration of Jesus. With these words, similar to those spoken by Saint Peter that compelled Jesus to declare him the rock upon which our church would ultimately be built (Matthew 16:18), Martha teaches us that faith is more than merely trusting in Jesus. Martha comes to believe that Jesus could perform miracles, made manifest by her words to Him in today’s Gospel “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.”
Saint Martha teaches us that when you pray, pray big.
Faith in Jesus is what fuels us when we suffer, consoles us when things don’t go the way we had hoped, and galvanizes us for the arduous but joyful journey they lies ahead. Seek the intercession of Saint Martha so that you too can develop an audacious faith, one which confidently seeks and expects miracles from the only true purveyor of miracles, God the Father.
“O blessed St. Martha, your faith led Jesus to proclaim, "I am the resurrection and the life;”and faith let you see beyond his humanity when you cried out, "Lord I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God." With firm hope you said, I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him, and Jesus called your brother Lazarus back from the dead. With pure love for Jesus you welcomed him into your home. Friend and servant of our Savior, I too am "troubled about many things.” Pray for me and my loved ones that we may grow in faith, hope and love, and that Jesus, who sat at your table, will hear us and grant us a place at the banquet of eternal life.” ~ Amen.