St. Martha, patron of cooks and housewives
By Jean M. Heimann
July 29 is the feast of St. Martha, virgin (who died in France around 80). Martha was born into an aristocratic and affluent family, but she is most well-known for her gift of hospitality in serving Jesus.
Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus. They were close friends of Jesus, for whom he had great affection, and he often came to visit them in their home in Bethany. In fact, the Gospel tells us: “Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and Lazarus” (John 11:5). It was Martha who lovingly served the Lord when he visited them. One day, when she was preparing a meal for Jesus and his disciples, she realized that the task would be easier if her sister would help. She watched Mary sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet, listening to him. She asked Jesus to persuade Mary to help her. Jesus was pleased with Martha’s loving service. However, he wanted her to know that listening to God’s Word and praying is even more important. So he said gently, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious about many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part.”(Luke 10:41-42).
St. Martha’s great faith in Jesus was demonstrated when her brother Lazarus died. As soon as she heard that Jesus was coming to Bethany, Martha went to meet him. She knew Jesus well enough to say: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21). “Then Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise. He said, “He who believes in me, even if he die, shall live. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26) And Martha answered, Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world” (John 11:25-26). When Jesus saw Lazarus, he wept with Martha and Mary. Then, he performed the great miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead!
Later, Jesus came again to dine with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Martha cooked and served them. This time, however, Martha showed a more loving attitude. She served with a generous and joy-filled heart.
Patronage: Butlers; cooks; dietitians; domestic servants; homemakers; hotel-keepers; housemaids; housewives; innkeepers; laundry workers; maids; manservants; servants; servers; single laywomen; travellers.
A Prayer to St. Martha
O blessed St. Martha, your faith led Jesus to proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life”; and faith let you see beyond his humanity when you cried out, “Lord I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” With firm hope you said, “I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him”, and Jesus called your brother Lazarus back from the dead. With pure love for Jesus you welcomed him into your home.
Friend and servant of our Savior, I too am “troubled about many things”. (mention your intentions) Pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love, and that Jesus, who sat at your table, will hear me and grant me a place at the banquet of eternal life. Amen.