Did you happen to notice there are two choices for the Gospel reading today?.
“Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to sympathize with them over their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus had come she went to meet him. Mary remained sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, ‘If you had been here, my brother would not have died, but I know that, even now, whatever you ask of God, he will grant you.’ ‘Your brother’ said Jesus to her ‘will rise again.’ Martha said, ‘I know he will rise again at the resurrection on the last day.’
‘I am the resurrection and the life.
If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live,
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?’
‘Yes, Lord,’ she said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.”
~ John 11:19-27
“Jesus came to a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. She had a sister called Mary, who sat down at the Lord’s feet and listened to him speaking. Now Martha who was distracted with all the serving said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister is leaving me to do the serving all by myself? Please tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.”
~ Luke 10:38-42
May I ask, when you remember Martha in the bible, which Gospel passage comes to your mind first? The story about Jesus chiding Martha for complaining instead of sitting with him like Mary? Or the passage about her profoundly deep faith in Jesus that he was truly was the Son of God, the Christ, the one who was to come into this world?
The first thing that comes to mind for most people when they think of Martha, is the gospel story of Jesus chiding Martha for complaining. That is what she is remembered the most for – being corrected by Jesus Christ. What a shame this is our prevailing attitude toward Martha because there are actually two gospel passages about her. One is very positive and portrays why she is a saint. The other passage describes a negative situation about Martha, when Jesus corrected her.
I think it shows something about our own negative mindset sometimes. A good example of this is the news stories that are on the television, internet, or in the headlines of our newspapers. When bad things happen, that story is the one that gets published and everyone’s focus is on it. Yes, of course there are good news stories that are published too, but they do not receive the same amount of coverage as the negative wvents in our communities.
I have a proposal today. I propose that we look to the biblical accounts of Saint Martha and realize why she is a saint. That we freely choose to focus on what was good about her, instead of her worst moment. It is a choice, and we are the only one who has the ability to stop focusing on the negative in other people, and turn that thought around to see the good in them.
Martha became a saint because of her friendship and hospitality that she offered Jesus, but also because of her deep faith in Jesus Christ. She spoke of her deep faith in him in today’s gospel:
“Yes, Lord, she said, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.”
And she said these words when everyone else quit believing in him during the darkest moments of their grief. Martha believed in Jesus, that he was who he said he was, even when no one else did.
Do we believe in Jesus enough to believe the best in other people too? To make an effort to remember them for their very best qualities, instead of their worst?
People have a way of living up to what we believe about them. If we treat people like they are not worthwhile, eventually they too, believe themselves to not be worth anything. If we see the potential in others and treat them in such a way as to support them in developing these positive traits more fully, they usually do.
Against all odds, Saint Martha still believed that Jesus could have saved her brother even after he died and guess what? He did.