Saint Martha

John 11:19-27

I am the resurrection and the life

Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to sympathise with them over their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus had come she went to meet him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.’ ‘Your brother’ said Jesus to her ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said:

‘I am the resurrection and the life.

If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live,

and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

Do you believe this?’

‘Yes, Lord,’ she said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’

Jeremiah 15:10,16-21

They will not overcome you, because I am with you

‘Woe is me, my mother, for you have borne me

to be a man of strife and of dissension for all the land.

I neither lend nor borrow,

yet all of them curse me.

‘When your words came, I devoured them:

your word was my delight

and the joy of my heart;

for I was called by your name,

Lord, God of Hosts.

I never took pleasure in sitting in scoffers’ company;

with your hand on me I held myself aloof,

since you had filled me with indignation.

Why is my suffering continual,

my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?

Do you mean to be for me a deceptive stream

with inconstant waters?’

To which the Lord replied,

‘If you come back,

I will take you back into my service;

and if you utter noble, not despicable, thoughts,

you shall be as my own mouth.

They will come back to you,

but you must not go back to them.

I will make you

a bronze wall fortified against this people.

They will fight against you

but they will not overcome you,

because I am with you

to save you and to deliver you

– it is the Lord who speaks.

I mean to deliver you from the hands of the wicked

and redeem you from the clutches of the violent.’

Psalm 58(59):2-5,10-11,17-18

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

Rescue me, God, from my foes;

protect me from those who attack me.

O rescue me from those who do evil

and save me from blood-thirsty men.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

See, they lie in wait for my life;

powerful men band together against me.

For no offence, no sin of mine, Lord,

for no guilt of mine they rush to take their stand.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

O my Strength, it is you to whom I turn,

for you, O God, are my stronghold,

the God who shows me love.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

As for me, I will sing of your strength

and each morning acclaim your love

for you have been my stronghold,

a refuge in the day of my distress.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

O my Strength, it is you to whom I turn,

for you, O God, are my stronghold,

the God who shows me love.

O God, you have been a refuge in the day of my distress.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The progressive revelation of the Resurrection

992 God revealed the resurrection of the dead to his people progressively. Hope in the bodily resurrection of the dead established itself as a consequence intrinsic to faith in God as creator of the whole man, soul and body. The creator of heaven and earth is also the one who faithfully maintains his covenant with Abraham and his posterity. It was in this double perspective that faith in the resurrection came to be expressed. In their trials, the Maccabean martyrs confessed:

The King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws. One cannot but choose to die at the hands of men and to cherish the hope that God gives of being raised again by him.

993 The Pharisees and many of the Lord’s contemporaries hoped for the resurrection. Jesus teaches it firmly. To the Sadducees who deny it he answers, “Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God?” Faith in the resurrection rests on faith in God who “is not God of the dead, but of the living.”

994 But there is more. Jesus links faith in the resurrection to his own person: “I am the Resurrection and the life.” It is Jesus himself who on the last day will raise up those who have believed in him, who have eaten his body and drunk his blood. Already now in this present life he gives a sign and pledge of this by restoring some of the dead to life, announcing thereby his own Resurrection, though it was to be of another order. He speaks of this unique event as the “sign of Jonah,” the sign of the temple: he announces that he will be put to death but rise thereafter on the third day.

995 To be a witness to Christ is to be a “witness to his Resurrection,” to “[have eaten and drunk] with him after he rose from the dead.” Encounters with the risen Christ characterize the Christian hope of resurrection. We shall rise like Christ, with him, and through him.

996 From the beginning, Christian faith in the resurrection has met with incomprehension and opposition. “On no point does the Christian faith encounter more opposition than on the resurrection of the body.” It is very commonly accepted that the life of the human person continues in a spiritual fashion after death. But how can we believe that this body, so clearly mortal, could rise to everlasting life?

Martha of Bethany (Aramaic: מַרְתָּא Martâ) is a biblical figure described in the Gospels of Luke and John. Together with her siblings Lazarus and Mary of Bethany, she is described as living in the village of Bethany near Jerusalem. She was witness to Jesus’ resurrection of her brother, Lazarus.

Biblical References

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus visits the home of two sisters named Mary and Martha. The two sisters are contrasted: Martha was “cumbered about many things” while Jesus was their guest, while Mary had chosen “the better part”, that of listening to the master’s discourse. The name of their village is not recorded, nor (unlike in John 11:18) is there any mention of whether Jesus was near Jerusalem. Biblical commentator Heinrich Meyer notes that “Jesus cannot yet be in Bethany (see Luke 13:22, Luke 17:11), where Martha and Mary dwelt [according to John’s Gospel]”. but the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges claims that it was “undoubtedly Bethany”.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

– (Luke 10:38–42, New International Version)

In the Gospel of John, Martha and Mary appear in connection with two incidents: the raising from the dead of their brother Lazarus (John 11) and the anointing of Jesus in Bethany (John 12:3).

In the account of the raising of Lazarus, Jesus meets with the sisters in turn: Martha followed by Mary. Martha goes immediately to meet Jesus as he arrives, while Mary waits until she is called. As one commentator notes, “Martha, the more aggressive sister, went to meet Jesus, while quiet and contemplative Mary stayed home. This portrayal of the sisters agrees with that found in Luke 10:38–42.” In speaking with Jesus, both sisters lament that he did not arrive in time to prevent their brother’s death: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). But where Jesus’ response to Mary is more emotional, his response to Martha is one of teaching calling her to hope and faith:

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. “Lord”, Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord”, she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

– (John 11:20–27, New International Version)

As the narrative continues, Martha calls her sister Mary Magdalene to see Jesus. Jesus has Mary bring him to Lazarus’ tomb where he commands the stone to be removed from its entrance. Martha here objects, “But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days”, to which Jesus replies, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:39–40). They then take away the stone and Jesus prays and calls Lazarus forth alive from the tomb.

Martha appears again in John 12:1–8, where she serves at a meal held in Jesus’ honor at which her brother is also a guest. The narrator only mentions that the meal takes place in Bethany, while the apparently parallel accounts in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 26:6–13) and Mark (Mark 14:3–9) specify that it takes place at the home of one Simon the Leper. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, “We are surely justified in arguing that, since Matthew and Mark place the scene in the house of Simon, St. John must be understood to say the same; it remains to be proved that Martha could not ‘serve’ in Simon’s house.” It is at this meal that a woman (Martha’s sister Mary, according to John) anoints Jesus with expensive perfume.

Source: Wikipedia