Friday, July 29, 2011

Martha, Martha

St. Martha
But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her,

"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things."

 – Luke 10:41

Today is the feast day of St. Martha.

There aren't a lot of people that look up to St. Martha and say "I want to be like her." But Martha was loved by Jesus. He says, "Martha, Martha". Who wouldn't want themselves to be mentioned by Jesus in the Scriptures -- not once, but twice. It shows the great love that Jesus had for Martha.

He corrects her, but in the softest, sweetest and most tender way possible. She is one of the sheep of his flock and he gently guides her with his staff. She is like a precious little lamb that has wandered slightly to nibble on some grass and is in danger of being left behind.

We don't recognize ourselves in Martha, but we should. She is the faithful Catholic that attends Mass every week; that prays her Rosary every day. And kneels before the Eucharist in silent adoration.

She may not always understand why she does these things. Others may accuse her of superstition because she is unable to explain her devotion. Hers is a blind faith, done out of a sense of obedience.

With what heroic fortitude does she persist in her devotions; never doubting, never questioning. Calling on those around her to follow her example and pray the Rosary daily; totally committed in her allegiance to the Pope. So much so that she cannot be swayed or distracted by the rumors, gossip and scandals in the Church.

Others may say that she clings to her religion. Jesus calls to her gently, "Martha, Martha..."

Martha carries on dutifully.

Martha is the heroic faithful who never waver in their devotion to Jesus and their obedience to the Church. They may not have the gift of a burning fire of faith like a St. Peter or her sister Mary; their gift is a faith formed from obedience and perseverance. They trust in the Lord even as they are led along a path which for them is dark and empty. They are His sheep; He is their Shepherd. They are His servants; He is their Lord and Master.

Jesus said, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."

Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:12)
Blessed are all those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:18)
Blessed are those who are alive and keep thy commandments! (4 Ezra 7:45)
How blessed are those who love you! (Tobit 13:14)
Blessed are those who saw you. (Sirach 48:11)
Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. (Luke 12:37)
Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9)

Martha quietly says to us, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." (John 11:28)
And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it." (Isaiah 30:20-21)
[Lectio Divina: The prophet Isaiah seems to be speaking to us through Martha here. She struggles with adversity as we all do in our daily lives. Then the Teacher appears. Martha is one of the fortunate few who saw Jesus with her own eyes. We can see Him through her witness. He appears as a man to her; as a friend. But also as the Teacher and the Son of God. He guides his sheep -- Martha and us -- with his gentle but firm words saying "Martha, Martha.... this is the way."]

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See also:
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UPDATE:

Below I have expanded some of the Biblical quotations from above to show how the Old and the New Testament blend together so perfectly. There is a Divine Plan. You can see immediately how the blessings show us a path to our heavenly destination. (Also, I discovered that the name Martha in Hebrew is the feminine equivalent of Lord. So she would be a Lady, in the sense of a wife of a Lord. Jesus is her Lord and she has taken a solemn wedding vow to dutifully obey His every command.)

Kiss his feet,
 lest he be angry, and you perish in the way;
 for his wrath is quickly kindled.
 Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
(Psalm 2:12)
[Remember how Mary Magdalene kissed the feet of our Lord.]
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Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you;
 therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
 For the LORD is a God of justice;
 blessed are all those who wait for him.
(Isaiah 30:18)
[The LORD is merciful. The extent to which the Prophet Isaiah foretells the coming birth of Jesus Christ the Messiah is truly amazing.]
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How blessed are those who love you!
 They will rejoice in your peace.
 Blessed are those who grieved over all your afflictions;
 for they will rejoice for you upon seeing all your glory,
 and they will be made glad for ever.
(Tobit 13:14)
[How can anyone read this and not be reminded of Christ's Passion and Resurrection.]
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Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes; truly, I say to you, he will gird himself and have them sit at table, and he will come and serve them.
(Luke 12:37)
[Christ reveals that at the Second Coming there will be like a reenactment of the Last Supper when He washes the Apostle's feet. Will He greet each soul into Heaven this way? Rather than Martha serving Him, He will serve Martha.]
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"Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" -- for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God."

(Revelation 19:7-9)
[The angel reveals more about the Second Coming. Again the imagery is like the Last Supper, but now it is clearly revealed to be a wedding feast. The Bride appears to be the Church; or at least the Saints of the Church.]

4 comments:

  1. I see Martha in this quote by St. Faustina: "Now a gray, ordinary day has begun ... O you days of work and of monotony, you are not monotonous to me at all, for each moment brings me new graces and opportunity to do good."

    St. Martha, pray for us!

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  2. M. What a lovely quote. I found a link to it and have expanded it below. I wonder if Martha didn't become more like her sister Mary after the Resurrection; and the Holy Spirit descended on the world. In St. Faustina we see how the differing faith practices of Mary and Martha have been reconciled and brought together.

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    From the Diary of St. Faustina (244-245):

    Now a gray, ordinary day has begun. The solemn hours of the perpetual vows have passed, but God's great grace has remained in my soul. I feel I am all God's; I feel I am His child, I feel I am wholly God's property. I experience this in a way that can be physically sensed. I am completely at peace about everything, because I know it is the Spouse's business to look after me. I have forgotten about myself completely. My trust placed in His Most Merciful Heart has no limit. I am continuously united with Him. It seems to me as though Jesus could not be happy without me, nor could I without Him. Although I understand that, being God, He is happy in himself and has absolutely no need of any creature, still, His goodness compels Him to give himself to the creature, and with a generosity which is beyond understanding.

    My Jesus, I will now strive to give honor and glory to Your Name, doing battle till the day on which You yourself will say, enough! Every soul You have entrusted to me, Jesus, I will try to aid with prayer and sacrifice, so that Your grace can work in them. O great lover of souls, my Jesus, I thank You for this immense confidence with which You have deigned to place souls in our care. O you days of work and of monotony, you are not monotonous to me at all, for each moment brings me new graces and opportunity to do good.

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  3. UPDATE: I added many additional thoughts on the scripture passages.

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  4. UPDATE: I corrected an obvious error in my interpretation of Revelation 19.

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