Are you a Martha or a Mary? I ask myself this question from time to time. After all, both types are necessary: without the “doers,” no one would get fed and nothing would get done. And without people who focus on the spiritual side, we wouldn’t have faith mentors and guides to support us in our own lives.
I love Martha – she’s so real. She’s up to her elbows in food prep and looking after people, and feeling a little testy about not having her sister’s help (see Luke 10:38-42). She doesn’t keep her frustration to herself, either! She has a dear friend visiting, and wants to put on a good spread. Wouldn’t most of us feel the same way?
But this isn’t her last appearance in the Gospels. When her brother, Lazarus, dies, she turns out to be an amazing model of faith for us. “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home.” (There’s Martha being a doer again.) When she tells Jesus that Lazarus wouldn’t have died if Jesus had been there, she opens the door for something wonderful. Jesus speaks of the resurrection, then tells her,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” (John 11:26-27)
Through this incredible statement of faith, Martha reveals that she is not just the overworked cook (although she is the patron saint of cooks). She, like her sister, is seeking God and is ready to follow him.
I’ve decided that I’m part Martha and part Mary. Sometimes I need to be in the kitchen serving others, and other times I need to focus on deepening my relationship with God. The trick is finding a balance between the two.
St. Martha, pray for us!
–Anne Louise Mahoney, Managing Editor