You know, I think St. Martha gets kind of a bad rap in general. She is maybe best known for the fact that she complained about having to do all the cooking and serving while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet the whole time. Jesus told her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” That was in the Gospel reading I did not choose to read for today’s Mass.
But that reputation is so wrong. I think the Gospel I did read gives us a better look at why Martha is indeed a saint. This reading gives us Martha’s profession of faith. Jesus asks her if she believes that he indeed is the resurrection and the life, and she responds with great faith, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
There was a division among the Jews at the time, between those who believed in life after death and those who did not. It was the Sadducees that did not believe in an afterlife (and so that’s why they were sad, you see…). Martha clearly isn’t one of these. Not only does she believe in a resurrection of the dead, but she believes that Jesus is the one who has come to make it all possible. And she couldn’t be more right.
Martha’s profession of faith comes at a particularly low point in her life: her brother Lazarus has died. So I think Martha is the patron saint of all of us who choose to witness to our faith even when times are hard. Those who live faithfully when they are sick or dying, or when they are grieving, or when they are looking for work, or when they are suffering from addiction, or whatever it may be, can look to St. Martha as their patron. Because when our faith is tested and we choose to live it anyway, that is when we are most like the saints. And St. Martha is the one to lead us in proclaiming, “Yes, Lord: my faith may be tested right now, but I believe anyway. You are the Christ. You are the resurrection and the life. You are the one who is coming into the world!”