Friday, July 29, 2011

Memorial of Saint Martha

(Leviticus 23:1.4-11.15-16.27.34b-37; Luke 10:38-42)

It seems capricious of the Church to honor Martha with an obligatory feast while not giving at least similar distinction to her sister Mary. After all, in Luke’s gospel even Jesus recognizes that Mary has acted more wisely than her sister. However, if part of the Church’s strategy in naming saints is the edification of the faithful, we have to search for what Martha has to teach us.

First and most important, Martha shows us not to be shy about approaching Jesus. He is our friend who will help us when we are perplexed, especially when our distress is over how the world is run. Second, Martha provides one of the best examples of the virtue of hospitality in all the gospels. She sacrifices herself to entertain Jesus just as the Benedictines remind us that we should treat every guest as if she or he were Jesus. Finally, in the gospel of John Martha makes the same act of faith in Jesus as Peter does in the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke when she calls him, “the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Martha may not have sat at Jesus’ feet, but she knows his worth. We are wise to contemplate Jesus’ words like Mary and be ready to acknowledge and serve him like Martha.