The Feast of St. Martha ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading 1: JER 15:10, 16-21

Responsorial Psalm: 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18

Gospel: JN 11:19-27

Liturgical colour: White.

 

Today, we come together to celebrate The Memorial of St Martha.

Let us begin by looking at what the Holy Gospel is telling us today?

 

JN 11:19-27

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary

to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died].

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,

she went to meet him;

but Mary sat at home.

Martha said to Jesus,

“Lord, if you had been here,

my brother would not have died.

But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,

God will give you.”

Jesus said to her,

“Your brother will rise.”

Martha said to him,

“I know he will rise,

in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus told her,

“I am the resurrection and the life;

whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,

and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.

Do you believe this?”

She said to him, “Yes, Lord.

I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,

the one who is coming into the world.”

 

The feeling of Sorrow and grief is that dark feeling of trauma and distress that comes to us all after experiencing a loss or tragedy. Such an experience can often be all consuming. As children of God, our hearts ought to be filled with a genuine sense of compassion and care for our troubled brother or sister in their times of suffering and pain. We ought to love them (Rom. 12:10), cry with them (Rom. 12:15) and pray for them (James 5:13).

We have all felt this grief of loss of a dear loved one at some point in our lives. I personally have experienced it so many times. So, we can imagine exactly how Mary and Martha were feeling and the  painful heavy grief atmosphere that they were experiencing within their family home. We can also understand their deep yearning that their dear brother would’ve been cured of his illness before it came to the point of his death.

 

In today’s Holy Gospel, we can clearly see a demonstration of the care Jesus showed toward Mary and Martha in the midst of their grief. When it comes to the death of God’s people the Bible says, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15).

 

The loss of a loved one naturally produces much grief and anguish within our hearts. When Martha, the sister of Lazarus and a close friend of Jesus, heard that Jesus was coming to pay his respects for the loss of Lazarus who had by then been dead for 4 days, she immediately went out to meet him before he could get to her house. What was it which compelled Martha to leave their home where Lazarus lay in death in order to seek Jesus out?  I personally believe the reason could well have been two=fold in nature. I believe the companionship and consolation of her dear friend who also loved her brother deeply was one reason, as was that Martha recognized in Jesus the hope that God would restore life.

Martha, like many Jews, believed in the eternal life to come. The loss of her brother did not diminish her hope in the resurrection in the least. She even gently chides Jesus for not coming soon enough to save her brother Lazarus from his untimely death. Jesus does something unexpected and remarkable with  the intention of both strengthening her faith and  hope in the life to come and also to give her a sign of what he was to accomplish through his own death and resurrection. Jesus gave to her belief a new and profound meaning: He came from the Father to defeat all sin and death for us and to restore life to all who believe in him.

 

Jesus states unequivocally that he himself is the Resurrection and the Life. The life he offers is abundant – life which comes from God the Father himself. And also gives everlasting life – the fullness of life which is without end. Do we truly seek that abundant and eternal life which Jesus offers to all who believe in him?

 

“Lord Jesus, you are the Resurrection and the Life. Strengthen our faith and hope in your promises that we may radiate the joy of the Gospel to others.”

 

Psalm 126:1-6 NIV

 

1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Sion,

we were like those who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,

our tongues with songs of joy.

Then it was said among the nations,

“The Lord has done great things for them.”

3 The Lord has done great things for us,

and we are filled with joy.

 

4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,

like streams in the Negev.

5 Those who sow with tears

will reap with songs of joy.

6 Those who go out weeping,

carrying seed to sow,

will return with songs of joy,

carrying sheaves with them.

 

Let me finish with The voice of life and joy that awakens the dead, by Athanasius of Alexandria (295-373 AD):

“I am the voice of life that wakens the dead. I am the good odor that takes away the foul odor. I am the voice of joy that takes away sorrow and grief.… I am the comfort of those who are in grief. Those who belong to me are given joy by me. I am the joy of the whole world. I gladden all my friends and rejoice with them. I am the bread of life”

 

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