Tuesday, July 29, 2014

St. Martha

The Gospel of John tells us that “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (11:5)—these three siblings were close friends of Jesus and he relied on them for support.

They lived in Bethany, a small town two miles outside of Jerusalem. When Jesus began preaching throughout Judea, he would stop at their house for rest during his travels. Scripture mentions Jesus stopping at their house in three different accounts.

Martha was oldest of these three siblings, and appears to have been in charge of the household. She is the main character in the famous story of Jesus’ visit when Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to him teach, while Martha works away in the kitchen. Martha gets exasperated that she’s the only one attending to the household work and complains to Jesus. 

“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me,” Martha says. He comforts her and encourages patience, saying, “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” (Lk 10:38-42).

Later, we see how well Martha learned this lesson from Jesus—that the only important thing is to cling to the Lord. When her brother, Lazarus died, she placed her trust in Jesus.

When Jesus arrived at Lazarus’ tomb, he told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone 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 Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world” (John 11).

Martha is depicted in these stained glass windows from the Basilica, where she holds a cooking pot, and offers hospitality to Jesus. She is patron saint of cooks and kitchen staff, and her relics rest in the reliquary chapel in the Basilica. 

St. Martha, patron saint of cooks, and the hospitable friend of Jesus who was busy about many things, pray for us!

Norte Dame College


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