Feast Day: July 29th
Patron of: Servants and cooks
Saint Martha was from Bethany; a village close to Jerusalem. She was energetic, outspoken, diligent, and meticulous. Unlike her sister Martha, who was reflective and quiet. Jesus was often a guest in their home. Most of what we know of Martha is mentioned in the gospels. For instance, in the Gospel of Luke, we have this excerpt,
“As they continued their journey, He entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed Him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to Him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to Him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.’ The Lord said to her in reply, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.’”
From this, we see that even praiseworthy labor can risk us losing the importance of leading a faithful life. It is important to nourish the spirit, to listen to the Word of God no matter how busy life can get. While what Martha was doing is admirable, we must be careful to not let work overcome our life. Together, Martha and Mary teach us the balance needed to lead an active and contemplative life.
Another important anecdote to consider is found in the Gospel of John,
“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.’” It is already an extraordinary profession of faith; but the colloquy between Martha and Jesus continues. And from this simple woman of Bethany, we come to understand what it means to believe in Jesus Christ: “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 everyone 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 Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.’”
From this, we see her strong witness of faith. She never doubted, hesitated, or questioned Him. She simply believed.