29Jul 29 July, Friday, Memorial of St Martha

1 Jn 4:7-16. Love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

Jn 11:19-27. In her bereavement, Martha trusts in Jesus, who can give life to the dead.

Martha’s Faith (Fr Bill Dinga)

Today we celebrate the feast of St Martha, who was sister both to Mary and Lazarus. We recently heard in a gospel passage how Mary “chose the better part” when Jesus came to visit their home – “better part” being her close attentiveness to Jesus at his feet. But, this does not preclude Martha’s attentiveness to him in a similar way “from the kitchen” – where she was preparing a wonderful meal for them to eat together. What woman in the kitchen does not know exactly what is going on in the rest of the house?

But today, we remember Martha for quite another reason– a one that emphasises her deep, personal faith in Jesus. It is Martha, we hear in the gospel, who proclaims her belief in “resurrection from the dead” for those who die in faith, at which time Jesus uses the opportunity to describe himself as the resurrection and the life – and to promise that whoever lives and believes in him will never die. These are among the central statements that Jesus made – all at the prompting of Saint Martha, who was grieving at the death of her brother Lazarus.

To show his true power over death, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. For a short while anyway the family was reunited until they all died their natural deaths again! And now they, like all of us – wait for the general resurrection when we will rise from our graves and receive our reward from God – if we have been good and faithful to the end: eternal life with God in the kingdom of heaven.

Martha and Mary (from http://www.apostleshipofprayer.org/ )

Martha, along with her sister Mary and brother Lazarus, were among Jesus’ closest friends. He often visited their home and went there days before His Passion and Death. Unfortunately many people focus on Jesus’ challenging words to her: that her sister Mary had chosen the better part by sitting at His feet and listening to Him rather than scurrying about occupied with the details of hospitality (see Luke 10: 38-42). Jesus does not downplay work; rather, He challenges Martha to keep her focus on Him even in the midst of work and not let anxiety and worry distract her. As we renew our daily offering now, let us offer in particular the routine work of our day, and any worries that we have, as we reflect on a sermon of St. Augustine that appears in today’s Liturgy of the Hours.

“Our Lord’s words teach us that though we labor among the many distractions of this world, we should have but one goal. For we are but travelers on a journey without as yet a fixed abode; we are on our way, not yet in our native land; we are in a state of longing, not yet of enjoyment. …

“But you, Martha, if I may say so, are blessed for your good service, and for your labors you seek the reward of peace. Now you are much occupied in nourishing the body, admittedly a holy one. But when you come to the heavenly homeland will you find a traveler to welcome, someone hungry to fee, or thirsty to whom you may give drink, someone ill whom you could visit or quarreling whom you could reconcile, or dead whom you could bury? No, there will be none of these tasks there. What you will find there is what Mary chose. There we shall not feed others, we ourselves shall be fed. Thus what Mary chose in this life will be realized there in all its fullness; she was gathering fragments from that rich banquet, the Word of God. Do you wish to know what we will have there? The Lord himself tells us when he says of his servants, Amen, I say to you, he will make them recline and passing he will serve them.”

1 John 4:7-16.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Gospel: John 11:19-27.

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”