Friday, July 29 ~ Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Martha, Virgin
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: The loss of a loved one naturally produces grief and anguish of heart. When Martha 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 compelled her to seek Jesus out? Was it simply the companionship and consolation of a friend who loved her brother deeply? Or did she recognize in Jesus the hope that God would restore life? Martha, like many Orthodox Jews, believed in the life to come. The loss of her brother did not diminish her hope in the resurrection. She even gently chides Jesus for not coming soon enough to save Lazarus from an untimely death. 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.
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: Jesus states in today’s Gospel and in many other places in the New Testament that he is the Resurrection and the Life. The life he offers is abundant life – life which issues from God himself. And eternal life – the fullness of life which knows no end. Do you seek the abundant life which Jesus offers to those who believe in him?
About Saint Martha: Martha was born of noble and wealthy parents, but she is still more illustrious for the hospitality she gave to Christ our Lord. After His Ascension into heaven, she was seized by the Jews, together with her brother and sister, Marcella her handmaid, and Maximin, one of the seventy two disciples of our Lord, who had baptized the whole family, and many other Christians. They were put on board a ship without sails or oars, and left helpless on the open sea, exposed to certain shipwreck. But God guided the ship, and they all arrived safely at Marseilles. This miracle, together with their preaching, brought the people of Marseilles, of Aix, and of the neighborhood to believe in Christ. Martha, after having won the love and admiration of the people of Marseilles by the sanctity of her life and her wonderful charity, withdrew in the company of several virtuous women to a spot remote from men, where she lived for a long time, greatly renowned for her piety and prudence.
Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;
prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;
information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.