Saint of the Day – 29 July – St Martha (1st century), Virgin Martyr – sister of St Lazarus and St Mary of Bethany. Friend of Jesus, and hostess to him in her house. May have been part of an early mission to France. Died – c.80 of natural causes. Patronages – butlers• Congregation of Martha and Mary (founded in 1979)• cooks (proclaimed on 1 July 1963 by Pope Paul VI)• dieticians • domestic servants• homemakers • hotel-keepers• housemaids• housewives• innkeepers (proclaimed on 1 July 1963 by Pope Paul VI) • laundry workers • maids• manservants • servants• servers• single laywomen• travellers• Villajoyosa, Spain (chosen after a flash flood saved the village from Moorish invaders on her feast day in 1538).
One of the most precious things in life is to have a home where you can go at any time and find people who accept, love, and understand you. Jesus found such a home in Bethany, at the house of a woman named Martha. She welcomed Him and served Him and they developed a special bond of friendship. One of these visits has ever remained dear to Christian memory. On that occasion Martha, busily serving the Master, asked Him to persuade Mary to help her. Without in any way reproaching Martha, Jesus explained to her that certain souls, called by God, should choose a better part still — the primary duty of listening to Him and contemplating Him.
Martha lived with her sister Mary. Like many other pairs of sisters, these two women were different in personality. Martha was energetic and outspoken, while Mary was quiet and reflective. Jesus loved both of them and appreciated the gifts that each one had.
The Gospel of Luke records that once, when Jesus was visiting, Martha prepared the meal while Mary sat talking to their visitor. Martha complained that Jesus should tell Mary to help her. Jesus said that because Martha was worrying so much about the work, she did not have time to enjoy being with Him and listening to His words.
Another time recorded in John’s Gospel, the sisters sent a message to Jesus that their brother, Lazarus, was ill. They knew Jesus would come and cure him; they trusted in His loving care for them. When Jesus finally came, Lazarus had already been dead for four days. As soon as she heard that Jesus was nearby, Martha, a woman of action, went out to meet Him, while Mary stayed in the house. In her grief, Martha told Jesus honestly what she had expected from Him. Jesus asked her to believe that He was the resurrection and that He had power to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. Without really understanding this mystery, Martha trusted Jesus totally and said, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world” (John 11:27). That day Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from the dead, showing that He has power over life and death and power to give eternal life.
The home Jesus found in Bethany was not only in the house but in the faithful heart of a woman named Martha.
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