Saint Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus (whom the Lord raised from the dead), and friend and follower of Jesus. Saint Martha is frequently referred to as “the Lord’s Worker and Servant,” given her role in Scriptures as cooking and serving the Lord upon his visits to the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Following the initial rebuke of her resentment by Jesus, Martha became recognized for her embodiment of Christian hospitality. She remains the patron saint of cooks and servants.
We first encounter Martha in the Scriptures, during a visit that Jesus and the disciples make to her home. Apparently Jesus was a frequent guest at Martha's home in Bethany, a small village two miles from Jerusalem We are told in the Gospel of John that "Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus," suggesting the quality of the special relationship Jesus shared with these three siblings.
38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40But 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, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10: 38-42)
"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." (John 11: 27) She then says to her sister, and in turn, to each of us: "The Teacher is here and is asking for you."
1Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick."
4When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.
7Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea."
17On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
24Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
27"Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
28And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34"Where have you laid him?" he asked.
"Come and see, Lord," they replied.
36Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"
38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39"Take away the stone," he said.
"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."
40Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
45Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. (John 11: 1-7, 17-45)
1Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5"Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7"Leave her alone," Jesus replied. " It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."
9Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. (John 12: 1-11)
Saint Mary Magdalene and Saint Maximin. Here, Saint Mary Magdalene retired to a life of penance, and Saint Lazarus acted as Bishop of Marseilles. St. Martha's life in Europe was a very interesting one according to the Golden Legend:
“After the Ascension of our Lord, when the disciples were departed, she with her brother Lazarus and her sister Mary, also Saint Maximin which baptized them, and to whom they were committed of the Holy Ghost, and many others, were put into a ship without sail, oars, or rudder, which by the conduct of our Lord they came all to Marseilles, and after came to the territory of Aquense or Aix, and there converted the people to the faith. Martha was right fecund of speech, and courteous and gracious to the sight of the people.
There was that time upon the river of Rhone, in a certain wood between Arles and Avignon, a great dragon, half beast and half fish, greater than an ox, longer than an horse, having teeth sharp as a sword, and horned on either side, head like a lion, tail like a serpent, and defended him with two wings on either side, and could not be beaten with cast of stones nor with other armor, and was as strong as twelve lions or bears; which dragon lay hiding and lurking in the river, and perished them that passed by and drowned ships. He came thither by sea from Galicia, and was engendered of Leviathan, which is a serpent of the water and is much wood, and of a beast called Bonacho, that is engendered in Galicia. And when he is pursued he casts out of his belly behind, his ordure, the space of an acre of land on them that follow him, and it is bright as glass, and what it toucheth it burneth as fire.
To whom Martha, at the prayer of the people, came into the wood, and found him eating a man. And she cast on him holy water, and showed to him the cross, which anon was overcome, and standing still as a sheep, she bound him with her own girdle, and then was slain with spears and glaives of the people.
The dragon was called of them that dwelled in the country Tarasconus, whereof, in remembrance of him that place is called Tarasconus, which tofore was called Nerluc, and the Black Lake, because there be woods shadowous and black. And there the blessed Martha, by license of Maximin her master, and of her sister, dwelled and abode in the same place after, and daily occupied in prayers and in fastings, and thereafter assembled and were gathered together a great convent of sisters, and builded a fair church at the honor of the blessed Mary virgin, where she led a hard and a sharp life. She eschewed flesh and all fat meat, eggs, cheese and wine; she ate but once a day. An hundred times a day and an hundred times a night she kneeled down and bowed her knees.”
The life of Saint Martha, recorded in the Gospels of John and Luke, remind us of the importance of hospitality and service. But more importantly, they direct us back to the importance of placing Jesus at the center of our lives. Jesus clearly (and kindly, suggesting his love for Martha) says to Martha: "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” In that moment, we can all identify with this humble saint—how frequently do the small worries of our lives distract us from the love of the Lord, His plan for our salvation, and the grace which comes to us from Him, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother? He tells Martha that her sister has, by dropping the cares and worries of the world and sitting at His feet “has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Martha, upon hearing these words, opens herself to the Lord, professes her faith, and continues to serve him humbly and wholeheartedly, without complaint—a lesson which we might all benefit from!
your Son honored St. Martha
by coming to her home as a guest.
By her prayers
may we serve Christ in our brothers and sisters
and be welcomed by you into heaven, our true home.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for Hospitality
O Sweet Jesus, Saint Martha lived in Bethany with her brother and sister, Saints Lazarus and Mary. She attended to Your physical needs while You rested and fellowshipped with good friends. I ask her to pray for my gift of hospitality. Teach me, dear Lord, how to truly welcome friends, family, and strangers. Increase in me the same respect for them as I would give to You if You appeared in the flesh. Help me to invite You into my home through the choices I make in television shows, conversations with others, and the type of jokes I tell or listen to. Give me a spirit of holy hospitality. Saint Martha, pray for me. Amen.
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."