Martha was the sister of Mary of Bethany. We know only what we read about her in the Gospels of Luke and John. Whatever is said about her early life comes to us from apocryphal writings which usually are no more than the work of somebody’s imagination. We know that she busied herself preparing a meal for Jesus and his disciples, then went to Jesus to complain that Mary did nothing while she had to do all the housework. It was at that time Jesus reminded her that Mary had chosen “the best part”.
We see her again when, at the tomb of her brother Lazarus, she pronounces those profound words of faith which have come into our funeral liturgy: “I know He will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her: “I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life;…Do you believe this?” “Yes Lord”, she replied, “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God; he who is to come into the world.”
The cult of St. Martha began about the year 1200. Where or how she died we do not know. Whether hers was a martyr’s death or a natural one we do not know. We do know that she is our patroness for whom Jesus was like family, and therefore, a powerful one in the presence of God. Because she took care of the hungry, followers of Jesus traditionally know her as the Patroness of housewives, waiters, and waitresses. Let us follow her example in caring for our homeless, poor, HIV sufferers among us! If we were up in the cool North, we would probably be enjoying a bazaar or a fair, but because of our sweltering heat our Patroness’ feast will be celebrated only in our hearts, in our prayers, and in our re-commitment to the needy. Let us pray to her for the needs of the parish and for our own personal needs, material and spiritual. The Prayer to St. Martha is:
‘St. Martha, I resort to thy protection and aid and as a proof of my affection and faith I offer this light which I shall burn every Tuesday. Comfort me in all my difficulties and through the great favor thou didst enjoy when the Savior was lodged in thy house,. Intercede for my family that we may always hold God in our hearts, and that we may be provided for in all our necessities, I ask, St. Martha, to overcome all difficulties as thou didst overcome the dragon at thy feet.’
As a Novena, this may be said for nine Tuesdays with the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory be to the Father.”
Father Fausto Stampiglia, STD, S.A.C. in St. Martha Sunday Bulletin of 28 July 1996
Feast Day is July 29