stmartha.jpgIn the gospel accounts of Luke and John we meet a woman named Martha, who together with her sister, Mary and brother, Lazarus, are friends of Jesus. In the home of Martha, Jesus and his disciples were welcomed with gracious hospitality. Since Martha was the one who served at the table, she was chosen as patroness of innkeepers and hostels. Of the two gospel narratives featuring Martha, the one most often remembered is that of Luke, where Martha and Jesus 'have words':

...Jesus, tell my sister sitting at your feet to help me prepare this meal;... Martha, worry and distraction are stressing you; come here and sit awhile...

We also meet Martha in the gospel of John, where Jesus' relationship with this family is touchingly revealed:

...If you had been here my brother would not have died; ...show me where you have laid him; ...and Jesus wept...

At the graveside of her brother, a profound conversation between Jesus and Martha leads to a proclamation of faith like unto Peter's:

"I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world".

Jesus responds to this act of faith by Martha with the words,

"I am the resurrection and the life".

Martha's profession of faith is of great importance because it revives hope and provides consolation to us in our own journey of faith and on those occasions when we are confronted by the death of those we love.

Through time, St. Martha's images of maturity, strength, common sense, and concern for others predominated.

St. Martha's Feast Day is celebrated on July 29.

In the early fifties a new image arose. Martha, as depicted in statue, stands erect carrying a jar of oil, symbolic of the service of healing, of hospitality, and of blessing.

In reflecting on St. Martha's history we are inspired by her loving relationship with Jesus, her spirit of welcoming hospitality, her courage in the face of difficulties and her compassionate presence in service to all. May we follow her example of welcoming the Lord who comes, and serve Him with devotion and loving zeal.