Martha, Pray for Us

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Memorial of Saint Martha

John 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.”

Opening Prayer: Lord, may my belief in your power and might deepen as I reflect on your personal testimony. You are the resurrection and the life.

Encountering Christ:

  1. Seeking Jesus: Mary and Martha had two very different reactions to their brother’s death—both legitimate responses to their overwhelming grief. Mary retreated, mourning at home while Martha went to meet Jesus. Martha, in this case, wasn’t merely seeking consolation from her friend, Jesus. Full of hope, she set out to ask Jesus for no less than a miracle. “Even now I know that whatever you ask God, God will give you,” she pleaded with Jesus. How moved Our Lord must have been by her trust. Martha’s brother had been dead for days, after all! When we go out to meet Jesus in the Eucharist, at our nearby Adoration chapel, or silently in the depths of our hearts, let’s not hesitate to ask him for our deepest desires. Saint Martha, pray for us. 
  2. We Will Rise: Martha’s plea prompted Jesus to speak some of the most beautifully consoling words in Scripture, “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.” For those who mourn the loss of a loved one, there is no greater gift than these few words of Jesus’s. And we can be even more reassured than Martha was, knowing with hindsight that our Savior, himself, rose from the dead and prepares a place for each of us one day in heaven (John 14:3). 
  3. Faith: Despite her grief, Martha professed unwavering faith when she boldly stated that Jesus is the “Son of God.” She had witnessed Jesus preaching, curing the sick, and expelling demons, but he hadn’t yet risen from the dead nor founded his church. Still, she knew and publicly revealed Jesus’s divinity before everyone who had come to mourn Lazarus. Her proclamation of faith was about to be rewarded by the raising of Lazarus from the dead. That’s how faith works! “Faith is to believe what you do not see. The reward of faith is to see what you believe” (Homily by St. Augustine).

Conversing with Christ: Lord, how blessed we are to hear from the Scriptures that you are the resurrection and the life. Your power over life and death is the ultimate consolation for us, since we know we are mere creatures destined to return to dust one day. Death has no sting (1 Corinthians 15:55) when we rest in the promise you make, “…whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” You ask me, “Do you believe this?” I say, “Yes, Lord, help my unbelief!”

Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make a special sacrifice for those who mourn a loved one. 

For Further Reflection: Here is a prayer from the Catholic Order of Funerals for those who mourn. 

Lord, ______________ is gone now from this earthly dwelling,
and has left behind those who mourn his/her absence.
Grant that we may hold his/her memory dear,
never bitter for what we have lost
nor in regret for the past,
but always in hope of the eternal Kingdom
where you will bring us together again.
We ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Written by Maribeth Harper.

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