Feast of Saint Martha(Click here for readings)
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…”
Over three million young people attended Pope Francis’ closing Mass for World Youth Day on the beaches of Copacabana. Why so many? Why so many more than for the Rolling Stones?1 Why? Because they can’t get no satisfaction. Not even from the Rolling Stones!
Lazarus was a man, a man made out of flesh and bones. But that wasn’t good enough for Martha. Lazarus lived a normal life. He was conceived, born, and lived a certain number of years. He did what every good Jewish man did: he worked during the days and slept at night. He provided for his family and gave some of his extra to his neighbors. By any standard he lived a good life. And yet, it wasn’t good enough for Martha. In her heart of hearts she knew he was destined for more.
In my heart of hearts, I know I know that I am destined for more. I just can’t get no satisfaction.
She went to meet him. This time Martha did what Mary should have done. She left her cocoon and went out to meet the Lord. Martha is a “restless-heart” type of person. She needs to know. She’s not afraid to ask. She’s ready to confront the one who knows; the only one who can put it all together: Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Here goes nothing…
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Wow! Strong words. Talk about manipulating someone. Who does she think she is? Why does she say these words? I believe it is for only one reason: so that she can take the last - but in no way the least important - piece of the riddle of life and solve it. What is life all about? Why is life worth living?
Mary, on the other hand, may have been at peace with it all. This is the way things are. We must come to accept it. We live. We grow. We procreate. We die. Where is the riddle? This is what life is all about. All the pieces in the puzzle have a purpose, but the puzzle doesn’t.
Martha knew a lot of dead people. She knew they don’t rise from the dead. She didn’t fear the dead. She didn’t fear her brother Lazarus. She feared the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Or better yet, “The fear of the unknown is the beginning of belief.”
A risk worth taking. What is there to lose? What is there to gain? As the saying goes: If fear knocks on the door, let faith go and open it.
Jesus said to Martha, “Your brother will rise.” The conversation could have ended there and nothing more would have been said. In fact, Martha accepted the Biblical understanding of the resurrection on the last day: “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”
But Jesus didn’t end the conversation there. He went one gigantic step forward for mankind: “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?”
Going to the moon and coming back is nothing compared to dying and coming back to life!
The Lord is not interested in bringing dead people back to life on earth. He is interested in bringing the living to belief. I believe we are too. I want to believe more than I want to live.
Martha too was interested not so much in seeing her brother live again (only to die again). She was interested in knowing why she/he lived in the first place!
Before Martha saw her brother rise, she made a confession of faith: “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
Puzzle solved. Problems resolved. Faith renewed. Life restored.