This family has embraced Christ as He has embraced them
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (July 29, 2021): EX 40:16-21,34-38; PS 84:3,4,5-6,8,11; JN 11:19-27
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
The Gospels mention several encounters with Christ and this family that show His close relationship with the three siblings.
Starting this year, the memorial honoring St. Martha will include her sister Mary and brother Lazarus. The official decree from the Vatican states that “in the household of Bethany the Lord Jesus experienced the family spirit and friendship of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and for this reason, the Gospel of John states that He loved them.” The Gospels mention several encounters with Christ and this family that show His close relationship with the three siblings. We know that during one well-known visit Martha was consumed by the various tasks of offering hospitality to Jesus and their guests. She told Him to make Mary come help her instead of sitting and listening to Him. Christ let Martha know that her worries were interfering with what is truly essential to all His followers – the genuine loving relationship He wants to have with each of them. In today’s Gospel, the sisters are grieving the loss of their cherished brother Lazarus four days before. They believe that our Lord could have saved him had He come earlier. Jesus reassures Martha that Lazarus will rise again and she agrees that he will, but on the last day. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to Him ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27). The Gospel according to John goes on to describe how Jesus then raises Lazarus from the dead.
This family has embraced Christ as He has embraced them. We see in their friendships a warm human regard. But, because Jesus is the Son of God as Martha has just said, He uses this occasion of personal grief to demonstrate the depth of His love for Lazarus, his sisters – and for all of us who open ourselves to God’s mercy and trust in His will.