Feast Day: July 29 - Patron Saint of Cooks and Hospitality
"Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique statement in John's gospel tells us of the special relationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother.
Saint Martha lived in the first century. She was the sister of Mary and Lazarus, with whom she lived in Bethany. She was evidently the eldest and in charge of the household. They were all friends of Jesus, who often stayed at their home, and she was most solicitous of his welfare.
Many of us find it easy to identify with Martha in the story Luke tells. Martha welcomes Jesus and his disciples into her home and immediately goes to work to serve them. Hospitality was paramount and Martha believed in its importance. Imagine her frustration when her sister Mary ignores the rule of hospitality and Martha's work in order to sit and listen to Jesus. Instead of speaking to her sister, she asks Jesus to intervene. Jesus' response is not unkind, which gives us an idea of his affection for her. He observes that Martha is worried about many things that distract her from really being present to him. He reminds her that there is only one thing that is truly important -- listening to him. And that is what Mary has done. In Martha we see ourselves -- worried and distracted by all we have to do in the world and forgetting to spend time with Jesus. It is, however, comforting to note that Jesus loved her just the same.
We see Martha's faith and courage when her brother Lazarus dies. In Martha's conversation with Jesus she states clearly without doubt that she believes in Jesus' power, in the resurrection, and most of all that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life and then goes on to raise her brother from the dead. (John:11-20)
According to legend, Martha went to France after the death of Jesus and evangelized Provence.