Each July 29, the Church traditionally celebrated an obligatory memorial mass of St. Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus. But on February 2, 2021, Pope Francis expanded this memorial to include Martha’s sister and brother, Mary, and Lazarus. They were close friends of Jesus.
Since they lived in Bethany, less than two miles from Jerusalem, Jesus visited their family home each time He, with His disciples, participated in a major feast in the Temple of Jerusalem and Martha prepared meals for them. Clearly Jesus enjoyed the family spirit of this household and its hospitality.
This reminds me of an image that used to hang in our kitchen/dining room at home. It showed a family standing around the kitchen table ready to pray grace before sitting down to a family meal. At one end of the table was Jesus standing there with the family. This was a graphic reminder that every time we say grace, we have a most distinguished guest at table with us.
Finally, Jesus tells Martha, “Your brother will rise.” Martha says to Him, “I know he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus tells 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 11:23
This is the most wonderful news in this Gospel. Jesus is helping Martha move from believing that Lazarus will rise in the resurrection on the last day to a much deeper understanding that everyone who is baptized has already died and risen with Christ in Baptism.
We are not waiting to rise at the end of life; we are already living the risen life, here and now, and in Christ we are already seated with Him at the right hand of the Father in heaven because we are already in Christ.
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About Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C.
Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C. is President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. He entered Holy Cross Fathers in 1964. He earned a Bachelors in Philosophy from Stonehill College in 1967 and a Masters in Theology from the University of Notre Dame in 1971. In addition to English, Father Willy is conversant in French and Spanish. He's a native of Old Town, Maine and one of 12 children. He remains a diehard fan of the Boston Red Sox, even though he has served as Chaplain for the Los Angeles Dodgers.