Wednesday, July 30, 2008

St Martha

While I didn't make it to Mass today, I did get to Confession; and, as the late Fr Peter Knowles, O.P., said, every sacrament is an act of worship: to Confess (one's sins) is to confess (one's Faith in God).

Consider St Martha, that dear friend of Our Blessed Lord (cf. St John xi, 5), and how she stands for the active life, which is for this world only, while her dear sister, St Mary, with whom she is united, stands for the contemplative life which begins now and shall never end; in the next world, contemplation will be all: so the contemplative is the image of the eschatological reality. In this life, action must be rightly ordered to contemplation, so as to fit us for the next world without foolishly neglecting the necessities of this vale of tears: the veil must be torn, as it were, to reveal the hidden mysteries, known only to us through Christ, Who Himself is the new and living Way.

St Luke x, 38-42

Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord's feet, heard his word. But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me. And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.

When Lazarus her brother sickened, St Martha sent word to Our Lord; He came, but in His due time, and in a manner comparable to His most gentle corrective words to her, she boldly as it were even reproaches Him for this; yet St Martha's Faith, enduring even in the face of fell death, elicits from the Lord one of His magnificent confessions: I Am the Resurrection and the Life...

St John xi, 20-29

Martha therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus had come, went to meet him: but Mary sat at home. Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith to him: I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live: And every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever. Believest thou this? She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world. And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The master is come, and calleth for thee.

These last words, The Master is here, and calleth thee, are embroidered on the altarcover for the altar at St John's, Richmond, Tasmania, one of the oldest Catholic churches in the Commonwealth. What words of peace!

Let me quote the proper collect for this feast from the modern Divine Office:

Almighty, ever-living God, your Son graciously came as a guest to the home of Saint Martha. By her prayers give us grace to serve Christ faithfully in our brethren, and bring us to your home in heaven. Through...

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