Let my hands be open to God’s Word in my life.”
This past week the Church celebrated the Memorial of Saint Martha on July 29th. Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus. She received the Lord as a guest in Bethany, and looked after Him with devoted attention. We remember the story well. Jesus is visiting His good friends, Martha and Mary. Martha is busy in the kitchen and resents the fact that her sister, Mary, is sitting at Jesus’ feet, hanging on every word. Yet, instead of quietly asking her sister for help, Martha marches into the living room and boldly complains directly to Jesus, essentially demanding that He order Mary back into the kitchen. Jesus sweetly rebukes her, 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.” St. Luke does not tell us what happened next. Did Martha drop her dish towel and immediately sit down next to her sister?
I’ve always sympathized with poor Martha. As someone who enjoys entertaining , I appreciate the amount of work involved in preparing for guests. The house must be neat and clean, the bathrooms sparkling, and the menu carefully planned to send delicious aromas through the house while creating an appetizing presentation on the dining room table. Since Jesus did not have an opportunity to call before He came, Martha was most likely not given any notice to prepare her home and a proper meal for the Master, not to mention the usual crowd He attracted. She no doubt wanted to dote on her important guest with a worthy feast. Maybe she tried to show off a bit, planning a meal that would require slaving over a hot fire for hours in hope that Jesus would offer public praise and gratitude for her labor.
The next two times that Jesus and Martha meet, Martha is given help to understand that “ there is need of only one thing,” with the death of her brother Lazarus; she replies in faith, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” Then finally in Bethany when St. Martha is in the kitchen again with her sister at center stage. This time though there has been a conversion of heart and mind. This time she serves quietly and humbly, choosing the better part, service with love, rather than resentment or expectation of receiving something in return. St. Paul tells us, “Let charity be genuine…Love one another with brotherly affection…Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer…practice hospitality.”
Prayer to St. Martha:
O Saint Martha, teach me to offer the simple gifts of kindness and hospitality to others as you did to Jesus and His friends. Let my hands be open to God’s Word in my life. Bless and pray for all those who come to my door. Amen.
Please join us for Adoration every Friday until 3pm and every Saturday morning from 8am-9am in the Chapel.