Poor Martha is one of those people in the gospel who get a bad press. She is seen as the one who complained to Jesus about her sister not helping her with the household chores. Mary and Martha were the sisters of Lazarus and were close friends of Jesus.
The Collect, or opening prayer, for today’s feast throws a slightly different light on the subject:
“Almighty ever-living God, whose Son was pleased to be welcomed in Saint Martha’s house as a guest,” shows us that Jesus was glad to be visiting his friends and someone had to prepare the food for the visitors.
But although she is often portrayed as being always busy, Martha is also a woman of deep faith which comes to the fore in the story of how Jesus raises her brother Lazarus from the dead. In this story, taken from
John 11, Martha makes a wonderful profession of faith equal in many ways to that of St Peter:
“Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you. Jesus said to her,
Your brother will rise. Martha said to him, I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”
The wonderful lesson of Martha is that she found Jesus in the ordinary things of the day, the washing of dishes and the preparing of meals. In the normal course of life she was able to see and perceive the truth; there was no need for heroics or great learning.
Surely this is a lesson for us all as we go about our daily chores.