Wednesday, July 29 ~ Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Martha

 

Holy Gospel: 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.”

 

Meditation: Martha, like many Orthodox Jews, believed in the life to come. The loss of her brother Lazarus did not diminish her hope in the resurrection – in fact she gently chides Jesus for not coming sooner to save Lazarus from an untimely death.  But Jesus does something unexpected and remarkable, both to strengthen her faith and hope in the life to come, and to give her a sign of what he was to accomplish through his own death and resurrection. Jesus gave to her belief a new and profound meaning: He came from the Father to defeat sin and death for us and to restore life to those who believe in him. Jesus states unequivocally the he himself is the Resurrection and the Life. And the life that he offers is abundant life – life which comes from God himself.  Jesus also offers everlasting life – the  fullness of life which knows no end.

 

Prayer: Almighty ever-living God, whose Son was pleased to be welcomed in Saint Martha’s house as a guest, grant, we pray, that through her intercession, serving Christ faithfully in our brothers and sisters, we may merit to be received by you in the halls of heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: In light of what unfolds in today’s Gospel, we might ask ourselves what gives us hope and joy in the face of death? The loss of a loved one naturally produces grief and anguish of heart. When Martha, the sister of Lazarus and a close friend of Jesus, heard that Jesus was coming to pay respects for the loss of Lazarus, she immediately went out to meet him before he could get to her house. What inspired her to leave the funeral gathering in order to seek out Jesus? Was it simply the companionship and consolation of Jesus – a friend who loved her brother deeply? Or did she recognize in Jesus the hope that God would restore life through Christ who is our Savior? Probably both, with the latter building on the former; Jesus, who loves each of us as much as he loved Lazarus, is our sweetness and our hope – hope for eternal life with Him that can be ours by living an earthly life “through Him, with Him and in Him” as faithful disciples, loving Christ as He loves us.