Christ in the House of Martha and Mary
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© M. Duffy, 2011
July 29 is the feast day of St. Martha. She is mentioned twice in the New Testament but, in spite of the fact that one of the greatest of the “I AM” statements of Jesus concerning Himself is addressed to her, she has largely been remembered for the other time He addressed her. Poor Martha, she has received, as the saying goes “a bum rap”, especially when it comes to the visual record.
Martha is, of course, one of the sisters of Lazarus who lived in Bethany, outside Jerusalem. She appears in theGospel of Luke in the story of Jesus visit to her house. Instead of helping with the hostess work her sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to him. Then,
“Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“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.” (Luke 10:38-42)
So, Martha has come down to us as the woman who was reprimanded by Jesus for paying too much attention to the details and chores of daily living. She is often seen as the representative of the “active” life, as opposed to her sister, Mary (sometimes identified with Mary Magdalene), who represents the “contemplative” life. As the contemplative life was usually considered to be the higher calling, Mary appears to be the favored one.
But Martha also appears in another episode from the Gospel of John, where she beseeches Jesus to do something about the death of her brother, Lazarus.
“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.” (John 11:20-27)
So, it is Martha, the active one, who, along with Peter, declares and confesses who Jesus actually is.
But it is comforting to know that it is Martha, the one who, because she is “anxious and worried about many things” is most like the majority of us, is the one who is able to confess “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world”. She is our representative.
Vol. 19 – 6/20/26
Then after this, my sweet Jesus moved in my interior, and, all tenderness, told me: “My daughter, tell Me, what about your ideal, your purpose – what is it?”
And I: ‘My love, Jesus, my ideal is to fulfill your Will, and all my purpose is to reach the point at which no thought, word, heartbeat and work of mine may ever go out of the Kingdom of your Supreme Will; even more, in It may they be conceived, nourished, raised and form their life, and if needed, also their death, though I know that in your Will no act dies, but once it is born it lives eternally. So, it is the Kingdom of your Will in my poor soul that I long for, and this is all my ideal and my primary and ultimate purpose.’
And Jesus, all love and making feast, added: “My daughter, so, my ideal and yours are one, and therefore one is our purpose. Brava, brava, the little daughter of my Will! And since your ideal and mine are one, you too have sustained the battle of long years to conquer the Kingdom of my Will. You had to endure pains, privations, and have been even a prisoner in your little room, bound to your little bed, to conquer that Kingdom so much wanted and longed for by Me and by you. It cost much to both of us, and now we are both triumphant and conquerors. So, you (Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta) too are the little queen in the Kingdom of my Will, and even though little, you are always queen because you are the daughter of the great King – of our Celestial Father. Therefore, as conqueror of a Kingdom so great, take possession of all Creation, of all Redemption and of all Heaven – everything is yours, because your rights of possession extend wherever my Will reigns as whole and permanent. All are waiting for you to give you the honors that befit your victory.