Memorial of Saint Martha, July 29
When We Find Ourselves Overwhelmed By Waves of Sorrow and Tears of Grief, Jesus Asks That We Turn to Him In Faith, Trusting in His Words of Hope, “I Am the Resurrection And the Life”.
“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” – a declaration made by Jesus to Martha, a declaration that speaks to us about the fact that death is not the final answer!
Today, we remember in a special way Saint Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus. During Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, where He would experience His own Passion and Death, He first stopped at the village of Bethany to raise His friend, Lazarus, from death – “…for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
And He raised Lazarus from the dead to also strengthen the faith of His disciples – teaching them that He, the Incarnate Word, has the power over life and death, for His chosen followers would soon face an experience that would shake the very core of their faith.
And after our Lord responded with His declaration to Martha’s statements of grief, He asked her, “Do you believe this?” To which Martha responded, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
I am sure that many of us have experienced personal losses in our lives – the death of one or more of our parents or grandparents, a spouse, a child, a loved one. No matter what the relationship, the closer we are to the person who has died, the greater the grief we bear, a sorrow that can “cut to the quick” – a sadness which can tear at the very fabric of our being.
We know that, in the reality of life, each one of us will one day, ourselves, make that final journey, crossing the threshold from life to death. And we, too, shall leave behind loved ones who will grieve.
And yet, in the first of the alternative Readings today from the Gospel according to Saint John, Jesus arrives at the village where Martha, Mary and Lazarus were living; but Lazarus had already passed away, and had been buried for four days.
Martha, in her distress, addresses Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus then tells Martha that death is not the end. He gives to each of us the eternal hope of something which is infinitely greater that anything this life could ever possibly offer: “…whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live…”
But even with this great hope which fills our hearts concerning a life which never ends – everlasting happiness and peace, living in the fullness of Eternal Love – we can still look around us and see so much pain in the world, so much anger, so much hatred, so much denial of God’s Truth!
We begin to ask ourselves, “Where is their hope? Where is their happiness? Where is their peace?” And, in a very limited way, we can feel God’s sadness when we realize that so many people in today’s world have lost sight of what life here is truly supposed to be all about.
It is about coming to know the God who has created us out of Divine Love; it is about coming to appreciate the ultimate Sacrifice which His Eternal Son made for each one of us out of this same unfathomable and limitless Love.
It is about freely opening our hearts to the enlightenment and the guidance which His Spirit of Truth and Love desires to impart to each one of us, so that we may live our faith as a sign of who we are and what we believe.
For those of our brothers and sisters in Christ who freely choose not to know God, what they experience in life is not life as we know it. Rather, it is life filled with false hopes, false happiness, a false sense of interior peace.
And in their free-will choice of choosing darkness over Divine Light, in their free-will choice of surrendering themselves to the seductions and lies of secularism, they live lives of emptiness – never truly satisfied, never fully alive.
If only they had taken the time to listen and to take God’s words to heart. If only they had taken the time to put God first in their lives, choosing, instead of darkness, the Eternal Light and surety of God’s providential Love.
It is in our second alternative Reading for today from the Gospel according to Luke in which Martha’s sister, Mary, gives to each one of us, the example of choosing “the better part”. Jesus had entered their home and began to teach. Martha was the dutiful hostess, serving the needs of Jesus and His disciples. But Martha was distressed about doing all the work, and complained that her sister was not helping.
It was because Mary had chosen to sit at the feet of her Lord and Master in order to listen and learn. And I can imagine that you and I would probably have done the very same thing, for we would also desire to be close to the God who loves us, sitting at His feet and listening to His words of eternal life.
And Jesus replied, “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.”
Mary had chosen to embrace that eternal peace which only Jesus can give. She had chosen to latch onto His every word, words which give life and fill us with a happiness and a consolation – a hope which can be found nowhere else, other than in the very Heart of the Son of God Himself!
Over time, both Martha and her sister Mary came to understand Jesus’ words, especially at the tomb of their brother Lazarus, “…anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
And this is our consolation, our hope in a life which never ends – both for our loved ones who have gone before us in faith, and also for ourselves.
It is with faith that we find, within our weaknesses, our Lord taking us to His Heart and strengthening us. It is with faith that, within the frailty of our own humanity, we find Jesus supporting us and giving us rest.
And when we find ourselves overwhelmed by waves of sorrow, when we find ourselves walking through our valleys of tears and personal grief, Jesus asks that we turn to Him, in the midst of our anxieties and sadness, and remember His words of hope which He spoke to Martha near the tomb of Lazarus –
“I am the resurrection and the life.”
May you and I seek that abundant life – life which issues from God Himself. May our Lord strengthen our faith and our hope in His promises – promises of our own resurrection and eternal life. And may we be filled with that peace which can only come from the Eternal and Divine Heart of Christ Jesus Himself!
And Martha, to her great credit, in words which have become immortalized in Sacred Scripture for all time, speaks the words of faith which should fill each of our hearts –
“Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God…” †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the 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.’” (John 11:25-26a)
- “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.” (Luke 10:41b-42)
- “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
- “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (John 6:40)
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)
- “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
- “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God…” (John 11:27bc)
Prayer for the Day
“May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you.
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
– A Judeo-Christian Blessing (cf. Numbers 6:24-26)