The Feast of St. Martha ~ The Rev. Deacon Dollie Wilkinson, OPI
The Kitchen Prayer
Lord of all pots and pans and things,
Since I’ve not time to be a saint by doing lovely things
or watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawn light or storming Heaven’s gates
Make me a saint by getting meals and
Washing up the plates.
Although I must have Martha’s hands,
I have a Mary mind
And when I black the boots and shoes,
Thy sandals Lord I find.
I think of how they trod the earth what time I scrub the floor.
Accept this meditation Lord,
I haven’t time for more.
Warm all the kitchen with Thy love and light it with Thy peace
Forgive me all my worrying and make my grumbling cease.
Thou who didst love to give men food,
In room or by the sea
Accept this service that I do, I do it unto Thee.
Died 84 A.D
Feast day: July 29
Patron saint of cooks, wait staff, and homemakers
Today, July 29, is the Feast of St. Martha, sister of Mary Magdalene and Lazarus. We find her in the Scriptures three times, twice directly and once indirectly. In the first instance, Martha questions Jesus about her sister, who was sitting listening at the Lord’s feet while Martha was busy preparing the meal.
“Martha was busy about much serving. She stood and said: ‘Lord hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? Speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:40-42).
Jesus is telling Martha that each person has a role to serve, whether cooking or cleaning, or sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to His holy word. I can sympathize with Martha. Too many times I’ve grumbled about some chore, or task, that I did not want to do. But the work must be done, and as long as it is always done to the Glory of the Father, then no task or job is too trivial.
We also find her questioning Jesus about the death of her brother, Lazarus, in John 11:20-27, where she comes to a deeper faith in the divinity of Christ. When Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, had died, Jesus came to Bethany. Martha, upon being told that He was approaching, went out to meet Him, while Mary sat still in the house until He sent for her.
“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”
Here we have Martha doing something that most Christians, even today would hesitate to do – she questioned the actions of Jesus. He patiently reassures her that her brother, Lazarus, will rise again. Again, Martha takes an active role in her wish to understand more, to come to know that Jesus is really the Son of God.
Again, about a week before the crucifixion, as Jesus reclined at the table, Mary poured oil over Jesus’ feet. Mary was criticized for wasting what might have been sold to raise money for the poor, and again Jesus spoke on her behalf. (John 12:1-8)
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. “Leave her alone,”Jesus replied.”[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
By now, I imagine Martha is fed up with seemingly doing all the work, while Mary, her sister, seems to be the favorite of Jesus. I know I would be……but through these bible passages, we learn that everyone who is called to serve, will not do so in the same way. Nothing would get done if this were true. And on the flip side of this, thinking we had to do it all, as Martha must have first thought, would result in a very tired person. We all have roles, or parts, to play in the worship of our Lord. So do your part with gladness, as Mary and Martha did. As we can see on the basis of these incidents, many Christian writers have seen Mary as representing Contemplation (prayer and devotion), and Martha as representing Action (good works, helping others); or love of God and love of neighbor respectively.
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