Feast of St. Martha

St. Martha might admire the take-charge brilliance of Hillary Clinton. She’d also know what it means to get bad press. In comparisons to her sister Mary, she usually comes off as the officious social director, fussy and anxious, when her sister’s contemplation is “the better part.” But let’s look again at her role in the raising of Lazarus (John 11:1-53).

Annoyed by Jesus’ delay after she’d sent him word that her brother was critically ill, she spewed pure venom: “if you’d been here Lazarus wouldn’t have died!” But Jesus, like a forgiving friend, continued their conversation. Oddly, he seemed to need something from Martha, an affirmation before he raised Lazarus and proceeded to his own death. So few people understood him; perhaps all he wanted was the support of one person. Martha gave it.

When he walked purposefully to the tomb, then to the fate awaiting him in Jerusalem, did he hear Martha’s words echoing in his ears? Only one other person had affirmed him as Messiah, Peter. But a few verses after that bright spot, Jesus called him Satan because his understanding was so woefully inadequate. Where Peter challenged, Martha supported. Where Peter doubted, Martha energized. Happy feast to her and all women who speak boldly.

Excerpt from Hidden Women of the Gospels by Kathy Coffey, Orbis Press.

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