Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional and Bible Study – Memorial of St. Martha – July 29 – John 11:19-27; Luke 10:38-42
For the Memorial of St. Martha, the Church reflects on two encounters Martha has with Christ. The first encounter recalls Christ’s visit to the home in Bethany of Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. As Christ teaches, Martha diligently prepares and serves food to Christ (and likely many guests). As her sister Mary sits at Christ’s feet in adoration and learning, Martha, frustrated and failing, complains to Christ and insultingly demands that He correct Mary. Surprisingly patient, Christ gently rebukes Martha for being anxious and troubled and for missing the importance of making God her highest priority; He does not assert that Martha’s work is not important, but that work must be subservient to faith. Rather than rebuke Mary, as Martha wished, Christ upholds Mary’s choice to adore and learn from Him as the one thing she needs that won’t be denied from her.
In Martha’s second encounter, Christ arrives after Lazarus’ body had been in the tomb for 4 days and Martha goes out of the house to meet Him. While Martha has grown in faith, believing Christ to be able to perform healing miracles (but not the ability to raise her brother from the dead), she expresses an imperfect faith, failing to understand that Christ is God. Christ corrects her, proclaiming, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” Martha faithfully confirms her new understanding, calling Christ the “Son of God”, but she does not fully grasp Christ’s miraculous power for she will soon worry about the smell of death from the tomb.
Following Christ’s Ascension, tradition holds that Martha, Mary and Lazarus were set adrift on the Mediterranean without sail or oars and eventually landed in France where Martha evangelized many. St. Martha’s relics continue to be venerated in St Martha’s Collegiate Church in Tarascan, France. St. Martha is the patron saint of housewives and domestic workers.
Awed by Jesus Christ – The Son of God, Christ inspires exceptional devotion by those like Martha and Mary who encounter Him. Divine Teacher, who is full of perfect Wisdom, Christ draws the willing to Himself for relationship and learning. Divine King, Christ calls people to make Him their absolute priority and to fulfill their worldly duties. Divine Mercy and the Perfection of Virtue, Christ patiently and gently corrects Martha.
Being a Heroic Catholic Man
1) The dignity of women is assaulted by women who stigmatize the vocation of women as wife and mother and by men who abuse women by reducing them to objects. Marvel that Christ breaks religious and cultural norms by calling women into discipleship and upholds the dignity of women.
2) Like St. Martha, men in the hyper-competitive world often become stressed and obsessed with work. Others, mired in self-absorption and sloth, reject work and live off the labor of others. Reflect on the Catechism’s teaching about Work (CCC 378, 1914, 1193, 2172, 2184-2188, 2428) and pray for Christ to give you the wisdom and drive to balance work and leisure so as to grow in holiness.
3) In busyness and distractions of the world, men forget about the powerful champions Christ has given men in the Saints. Renew your understanding of the Communion of the Saints (CCC 946-962, 2683) and pray for Christ to help you to be strengthened by your patron Saint(s) (CCC 2165, 2156) and those Saints who can help you prevail over your life challenges.
Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers
Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Glorious Mysteries
Daily Devotion – The Blessed Trinity
Virtue of the Day – Charity
Corporal Work of Mercy – To feed the hungry
Spiritual Work of Mercy – To admonish the sinner