We are more familiar with the passage in the gospel of Matthew where Jesus gently admonishes Martha for her passive-aggressive comments about her sister Mary’s neglect to assist her with the details of hospitality. “Martha, Martha … you are worried … but Mary has chosen the better part.” Lucky for him he had power to turn rocks into bread or he would have gone home with an empty stomach that day. But since that rebuke out of our Lord’s mouth, Martha has been sidelined for her choice of attending to more practical matters. Yet Martha gets her day in the liturgical calendar. Last week we celebrated Mary Magdalene who has been erroneously identified as Mary of Bethany. And Lazarus doesn’t even get his day!
But each of the siblings of Bethany had a unique intimacy with Jesus that allowed them to speak honestly. Martha’s declaration “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world” is reminiscent of Peter’s declaration at Jesus’ claim that his flesh is true food and his blood true drink. So Martha had been listening after all! Likewise the Marthas who attend to hospitality details and things practical and essential have their own way of pondering and drawing close to Jesus. We cannot disregard their heroic efforts to do all the background work and still develop an intimacy with God. If you’re not a Martha, it can be difficult to grasp how this comes about. I am not a Martha but it has taken me a long time to appreciate their role in the smooth running of the household of God’s people. And for their faithfulness and dedication and patience with people like me, I extend to them my deepest and sincerest gratitude.
I did mention a few names at mass today, and thanked people for their work in the background. And I apologize that I did not remember everyone’s name. So I say thank you to Martha and her faithful, dedicated, and patient army. Were it not for them (and you) a lot of things won’t get done and done well. Keep drawing close to Jesus. And thank you for the lovely lunch … and fine dinnerware … and nicely starched napkins … and beautiful centerpiece. They know that everything went perfectly because no one said anything about it. So I mention it for all those times we didn’t but should have.
This mass was offered for the repose of +James Burcin.
Rolo B Castillo © 2020