Martha and Mary

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila - The Freeman

It is the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time and today’s gospel reading is a very short one that you can find in Luke 10:38-42 about the two closest friends of our Lord Jesus Christ, Martha and Mary, who lived with their brother Lazarus in Bethany a few kilometers east of Jerusalem. This is the house that our Lord Jesus always stays in when he goes to Jerusalem.

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“38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

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Actually the conversation between Martha and our Lord Jesus only shows their closeness. No doubt that Martha is the older sister and with our Lord Jesus and his disciples visiting them in Bethany, it means that Martha has to prepare her house for their stay and to feed his disciples food to replenish them. So when Martha saw that her sister Mary would not leave the side of our Lord, she then complained to the Lord that she was not helping her in the chores in the house.

But our Lord replied to Martha saying, “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” What we see in this story are the two virtues of women who work for the Catholic Church. One group goes out of their way to clothe the naked and feed the poor as we have seen this happen with many novitiates. Then we see religious organizations that are contemplative, who spends their days worshipping the Holy Eucharist exposed in their altars.

I learned that there are more women working in religious organizations than men in the clergy, which often triggers the question as to why we do not ordain women as priests. As St. Pope John Paul II remarked, “The Catholic Church does not have the authority to grant women into the priesthood.” That should end the debate on this issue.

Mind you, that our Lord frequently used the house of Martha and Mary meant that during many of his visits, he was able to teach them the ways of God and the kingdom of heaven. Martha after all, learned many things that our Lord had shared to her and today’s gospel lesson was a way for our Lord to teach Martha that what Mary has done was also to learn the way of the Lord. In order for us to have an understanding of what the Lord has taught Martha, this incident happened when their brother Lazarus died and our Lord Jesus was not around. When he arrived, Lazarus had already been buried four days.

In the gospel of John 11:25-35 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Martha said to the Lord, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” This is how strong the faith of Martha in our Lord Jesus Christ is.

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