This day commemorates three siblings, Ss. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus...
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of Ss. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus (July 29, 2022): JER 26:1-9; PS 69:5,8-9,14; JN 11:19-27
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Who were good friends of Jesus and who welcomed Him into their home, sharing memorable encounters with Him.
This memorial venerates a very special family who lived in Bethany, a town just a couple of miles from Jerusalem. Ss. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, sisters and a brother, were close friends and disciples of Jesus. Mentioned several times in the Gospels, these stories teach us a great deal about the deep relationship He desires not only with them, but also with us. On one occasion when He visited, Martha became annoyed with her sister for listening to Christ speak to those gathered, rather than helping her in the kitchen. He told her that she was fretting about too many things. He wanted her -- and all of us -- to realize that putting Him first in our lives is essential. In today’s Gospel reading we hear about the death of Lazarus. “Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died]. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you’” (John 11:19-22).
The Gospel goes on to say that shortly after this Mary also expressed her belief that He could have saved their brother if only He had come earlier. Then, approaching the tomb, we hear for the only time in Scriptures that Jesus wept. He loved these three and they loved Him. And the siblings clearly believed in Him and His message. But that does not mean that they always understood His ways any more than we do. The Son of God has a divine reason for all He does. And what He did at that moment was to call Lazarus out of the tomb -- to restore him to life. John’s Gospel goes on to say that this stunning miracle and the number of people who witnessed it led to the Sanhedrin determining to have Jesus killed. The next time we find Jesus at Bethany, Mary anoints His feet with expensive perfume and dries them with her hair; something Christ associates with His burial. After this encounter with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time. Within days after that, He was arrested, tortured, and killed. Three days later, He came forth from His tomb. While we know nothing more about the siblings, today we celebrate their great devotion and fidelity to Christ and His Church.