Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus. They lived in the little town of Bethany near Jerusalem. They were dear friends of Jesus, and He often came to visit them. In fact, the Gospel tells us: ‘Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary and Lazarus.’ It was Saint Martha who lovingly served the Lord when He visited them. One day, 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. Instead of speaking to her sister, she asks Jesus to intervene.
Jesus’ response is not unkind, which gives us an idea of his affection for her. He observes that Martha is worried about many things that distract her from really being present to him. He reminds her that there is only one thing that is truly important — listening to him. And that is what Mary has done.
In Martha we see ourselves — worried and distracted by all we have to do in the world and forgetting to spend time with Jesus. It is, however, comforting to note that Jesus loved her just the same.
Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. She is grieving the death of her brother with a house full of mourners when she hears that Jesus has just come to the area. She gets up immediately and leaves the guests, leaves her mourning, and goes to meet him.
Her conversation with Jesus shows her faith and courage. In this dialogue she states clearly without doubt that she believes in Jesus’ power, in the resurrection, and most of all that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and the life and then goes on to raise her brother from the dead.
Later, Jesus returned to Bethany to have supper with Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Saint Martha served them at table as always. This time, though, Martha had a much more loving attitude. She isn’t in the spotlight, she doesn’t do showy things, she doesn’t receive spectacular miracles. She simply serves Jesus.