Saint Martha

1 John 4:7-16; Psalm 33(34):2-11; John 11:19-27

The importance of Women in the life of Jesus is clear from the Gospel of John. We know from Easter that a Woman (Mary Magdalene) was the first human to encounter the risen Christ and to believe in his resurrection, and she was also the first apostle to the apostles by telling them this good news.  We also have that well known scene in which Martha and Mary are perhaps in conflict, the one busy caring for the practical needs of the day, the other preoccupied in listening to the words of Jesus. That Gospel (Luke 10 38:42) is available as an alternative today.

In John 11 however, Martha is in dialogue with Jesus, and is given the voice (we hope) of us all "Yes Lord I Believe that You are the Christ, The Son of the Living God". Once that declaration is made, then Jesus is able to exercise his power and raise Lazarus from the dead. Everything is possible - but belief in the Lord is needed first.

As always the situation is more complex than we tend to see if we only read small parts of the Gospels. Both Martha and Mary are profoundly women of faith as well as women of action. Reading the Luke passage we are ready to say that the way of faith is more important than the way of action - with Luke and John both, we see that in fact both are important. Perhaps it is fairer to say that without Faith, our activity is pointless? St Benedict certainly saw it this way as we see in his rule that the life of work is supported by the life of faith and prayer, and that prayer without work is diminished. We need both in our lives - leading to the Catholic Social Teaching about the dignity of the worker.

Posted in Daily Reflection.