Martha’s Faith

Today the Catholic Church celebrates St. Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus. We all know Martha, of “Martha and Mary,” sisters of Lazarus. Usually when we think of Martha, we think of the exchange between her and Jesus when Martha is bustling around working while her sister Mary is sitting at Jesus feet. Martha complains, and Jesus admonishes her that “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” That scene seems to diminish Martha (notwithstanding the fact that Martha took care of necessary tasks and the world could not survive without its Marthas).

Martha gets her moment, however. It occurs when Jesus arrives after the death of Lazarus. Martha chides Jesus for not showing up earlier, telling him that he could have prevented the death of her brother if he had arrived in time. Then she adds that “even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus tells her he is the resurrection and the life and asks if she believes that whoever believes in him will live even if he dies. And Martha, without hesitation, professes her faith: “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

This is Martha’s shining moment. She demonstrates enormous faith, even as she is mourning her brother’s death. We don’t know what significance Martha’s affirmation had for Jesus at that moment, but in his humanness, her affirmation surely meant something to Him. It is an affirmation that reveals the glory of God.

In terms of our own lives, the Women’s Bible Commentary frames the question Martha faced this way: “Can I let go of the limits that one places on what is possible in order to embrace the limitless possibilities offered by Jesus?” Can we?