Memorial of Saint Martha
(Exodus 32:15-24.30-34; John 11:19-27)
It seems capricious of the Church to honor Martha with an obligatory memorial while not giving her sister Mary a similar distinction. After all, in Luke’s gospel Jesus recognizes that Mary has acted more prudently than her sister. However, if part of the Church’s strategy in allotting the celebration of the 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 great as in today’s gospel. Second, Martha provides a sterling example of the virtue of hospitality. She sacrifices herself to entertain Jesus just as the Benedictines recommends that every guest be treated as if she or he were the Lord. Finally, again in today’s gospel passage, 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 serve him in others like Martha.