29 Jul 2015
Memorial of St Martha
There were the Jews and there was Jesus, and Martha was caught in between the two—and she didn’t even know it. She was a disciple of Jesus, and yet, she was still subscribing to many Jewish beliefs. She said the right things and was eager, but she had a ways to go in really believing what she said about Jesus. And, in that way, we’re all like Martha to some degree.
We’re caught between what the world says and what our Lord says—and oftentimes we don’t even know it. For example, who says that Mass has to be exciting and vibrant and energizing? The world. Not Jesus. And yet, we buy into that image of what real worship should look like because “that’s what sells; that’s what draws people in.” But all Jesus asks for is fidelity to God, a spirit of humble gratitude, an open ear to hear the Shepherd’s voice, and a childlike faith to believe in him. That’s the kind of worship Jesus asks for.
And so, we’re caught. Like Martha, we hear the voice of Jesus. But we don’t always subscribe to what he’s actually saying—not that we mean to be deaf to him. It’s just that sometimes we don’t or can’t hear that he’s trying to get us onto a different path from the one we’re on.
Martha said to Jesus, “I know [my brother] will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” And that was the right thing to say; a beautiful statement of faith—for a Jew. They believed in that “resurrection on the last day;” but it didn’t have anything to do with Jesus, and it didn’t require faith in Jesus himself as “the resurrection and the life.” Martha was still following the Jewish way of thinking, not the way that Christ was trying to get her to see.
Whether it’s this story of the raising of Lazarus, or the story of Martha being too busy with serving at her house, it can be hard to see why Martha is a saint. She always seems to be falling short or being about ten steps ahead of Jesus; over-confident, telling Jesus what to do and how to think. But, you know, Jesus loved her immensely. And he stayed with her as she worked to be a good disciple of his, most especially in her heart.
Martha is a saint because she grew to hear and follow the voice of Christ. And, in that, she was no longer caught between the Jews and Jesus; she became entirely dedicated to Jesus. And that’s like us. We’re often caught between what the world says and what the Lord says. But if we grow in humility and just raw faith in God himself, the one voice we’ll learn to hear and follow is Christ’s, and his alone.