Theresa Doyle-Nelson enjoys researching and writing about holy people from the Bible. She has written for a variety of Catholic resources and is the author of Saints in Scripture. Theresa and her husband Chad have been married for over 30 years, and although their nest is now empty, their three adult sons have growing families — providing enjoyable opportunities for growing gatherings and grandchildren graces! Theresa and Chad are parishioners at the beautiful and historic St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Bandera, Texas. You can find Theresa’s blog, “The Hill Country Hermit” at TheresaDoyle-Nelson.blogspot.com.
She [Martha] said to him, “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 11:27
Martha, her brother Lazarus, and her sister Mary shared a home in Bethany, a few miles from Jerusalem. Martha appears to have been the organizer of the siblings’ home, a person with a very strong sense of responsibility. On one occasion when Jesus visited, Martha’s sister Mary stopped doing any work in order to spend time with him. Martha scurried about, feeling resentful as she did the household chores for both women. Finally, she expressed her frustration and anxiety to Jesus, hoping for help. Instead, he encouraged Martha to let go of her work for a while in order to spend time working on spiritual matters instead.
Another profound story including Martha centers on her brother’s death. When Lazarus had become severely ill, Martha sent word to Jesus, requesting that he come to Bethany, but Lazarus died before Jesus’ arrival. Nevertheless, when word reached Martha that Jesus was finally approaching the village, she rushed out to greet him, her joy at seeing her Lord blended with tremendous grief. Her mourning was topped with confusion when Jesus asked for the stone before Lazarus’s tomb to be pushed away.
When Jesus had arrived too late to save her brother, Martha had already resigned herself to Lazarus’s death and put all her hopes into her brother’s rising on the last day. This devoted sister couldn’t understand the reason for exposing his decaying body. She didn’t imagine the possibility that Jesus could raise Lazarus back to life then and there. But as she watched Jesus command her brother to rise, her faith must have deepened dramatically.
Martha served dinner for the Lord again just six days before Passover, prompting a crowd of people curious to see Jesus and the revived Lazarus to gather nearby. St. Martha can help us to consider the need and difficulty of balancing our everyday and spiritual lives.
Six Days with St. Martha
St. Martha, her sister Mary of Bethany, and her brother, St. Lazarus all share July 29 for a feast day. St. Martha is considered to be the patron of homemakers, servants and unmarried women. Perhaps St. Martha’s anxieties speak to your heart; perhaps you would like to spend a few days studying her references in the Bible. Below are six passages that cover all of St. Martha’s appearances—consider spending six days reading them, contemplating them, and journaling about them. During your six days with St. Martha, ask this holy home keeper to pray for your intentions.
- Day 1) Luke 10:38–42
- Day 2) John 11:1–16
- Day 3) John 11:17–27
- Day 4) John 11:28–37
- Day 5) John 11:38–44
- Day 6) John 12:1–11