FEAST OF MARTHA, MARY, AND LAZARUS
16th Saturday in Ordinary Time
Today’s Gospel text for this feast of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus treats only of Jesus and Martha. Accordingly, in the Roman rite today’s is designated only as The Feast of Saint Martha. As we just heard in the Gospel we have just heard Mary is not mentioned at all and Lazarus is actually named only in the opening sentence. However, it is his recent death that caused Jesus to make the journey to comfort the sisters at the loss of the brother who was also a dear friend of our Lord.
Soon as she learned that Jesus was on his way to visit her and Mary, Martha immediately set out to greet him on his way. She does not hesitate to speak her mind to the Lord, though expressing her distress with a respectful restraint. As John presents the encounter, Martha does not bother with the usual greeting but gently complains “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” She then goes on to adding words that show her bold faith: “But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Our Lord responds accordingly, reassuring her as he states that “Your brother will rise.” Martha interprets these words to refer to the end time, replying “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”
At this act of confident faith, the Savior decides to carry the exchange to a new level of Revelation. He goes on to state “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.” With these words our Lord carries revelation to a new height, intended to instill a strong hope that he realizes, requires a firmness of hope. And so he asks Martha “Do you believe this?” Martha proves worthy of our Lord’s trust in her as he makes this astonishing claim. He is not disappointed as she replies: “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
Saint John recorded this notable event for the sake of all who would read it, for he understood well how a devoted friendship with or Lord prepared a person for belief in his power to bestow new life in the world to come. As we participate in this celebration today may each of us here take its message to heart, and live our days faithful to the promise given us by the words of our Savior and by the grace of this Eucharistic sacrifice.