Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Feast of St. Martha
Wednesdays are a treat for me because Fr. Mitch Pacwa celebrates Mass on EWTN and he always increases my understanding of both history and Sacred Scripture. I always remember the beautiful Lenten retreat he offered on Isaiah 53. Don't ever miss the chance to learn from him. Today is the feast of St. Martha, the busy and efficient hostess who was reprimanded by Jesus because she wanted her sister, Mary to help. 40 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.” 41The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. 42 There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:38-41). Today we see Martha grow in faith. Here's the Gospel:

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.”

Fr. Mitch begins with the fact that God loves us, not to be confused with affection, which is a normal human response. Even the animals have affection. But love comes from God. God *is* Love. It is so great and infinite that He gives His only Son so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish (John 3:16). Jesus loves the Father and each of us so infinitely that He goes to the Cross willingly to save us. And this is why we are able to love another. It's about offering ourselves to God and accepting Him. It's about offering ourselves to our neighbor and accepting them.

Jesus loves Martha and Mary and Lazarus. They are His friends and they love Him too. Underpinning this love is faith. And you can see how Jesus draws Martha closer in this exchange and deepens her faith. She believes Lazarus wouldn't have died if He'd been present. She believes in the resurrection (the Pharisees and Essenes do, but not the Sadducees). And when Jesus tells her HE *is* the Resurrection she professes her faith. She believes Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. The wording is very similar to Peter's confession of faith (Mt 16:15-16):

15He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16* j Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 18k And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. 19l I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.* Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 15

So if we've received the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, and if we nurture them, we continue to grow in them. But once we reach heaven, faith and hope disappear--we don't need faith because we will see God and we don't need hope because we're in heaven. Only love remains! But oh, this is just an inadequate summary. If you have a chance, listen to his homily (~12 min). 

It was this feast day that we got to attend at EWTN six years ago on our way to see my brother. How the time has flown. And how much our Lord has brought me closer to Himself. My prayer is that all who read this will be brought closer to Him too. 


Mirka Breen said...

Time feels like an illusion sometimes, (pun intended) and revisiting your brotherly visit (also pun intended) made me realize how long I have followed your blog.

Vijaya said...

The years fly and so too the days, but not as quickly. Thank you, Mirka for visiting me all these years. I hope one day we can meet in person.

Carol Soisson said...

I can relate to St. Martha. I get anxious and worried too. Her profession of faith in Jesus gives me hope that all of us can be saints one day.

Vijaya said...

Oh yes, Carol. I love saint stories exactly for this reason. They are so well drawn--the authors of the Gospels knew their personalities. She's still the same Martha but now with greater faith.