For many years I’ve counted on St. Martha as a patron saint of working mothers because she works hard to provide for others. In Luke 10:38-42, upon realizing that she is working alone as others spend time with Jesus she asks, why do I have to serve while others sit at your feet listening? If you’re like me, there is a special affinity to her in this moment, that instead of acknowledging how hard Martha works and directing another to help her, the Lord shows favor to Mary and even chastises Martha (however gently) for being anxious and worried about many things.
Like Martha, we also wanted to be recognized, acknowledged, for our hard work, to be invited and able to step away from the serving and rest at the feet of Jesus. And He does not disappoint, though it may come unexpectedly. My invitation came via an ACTS retreat, where He gifted me with my very own Mary moment. That one weekend, unburdened, I sat listening, learning, loving Christ with an open heart for Him to fill me with peace and healing. The experience changed my life and surprisingly drew me closer to Martha, allowing me to embrace her even more as kindred sister. We serve together to allow others to come and know and hear Jesus.
Our service also allows us to develop strong faith and confidence in Christ. In this way we are connected once again with Martha in the story of Lazarus from John 11:1-44.
When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Martha is the one who goes to him – to serve – while Mary sits at home. We can imagine her grief of the past four days, having buried a beloved brother. Upon coming face to face with Jesus, Martha displays a profound moment of trust and faith saying, “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.” (John 11:21-22) When Jesus tells her Lazarus will rise, she does not question him; she simply agrees that her brother will rise in the resurrection on the last day.
Then Jesus tells her – "...I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
Her response is a creed both strong yet simple.
‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.’ ”
Martha, who serves, makes this bold profession that captures the heart of our faith. Whether we are serving others or in the midst of great sorrow, ask the intercession of St. Martha to strengthen us in our own foundation of faith. To reach beyond any frustration or irritation and say boldly – as she did:
Yes Lord, I believe.