Feast of Saints Martha, Mary and Lazarus
In the first reading, from the Book of Exodus, Moses is completing the instructions given to him before this passage. He carefully follows the directions and builds the “Dwelling” where the ark will be placed with the Commandments inside of the ark. In Hebrew, tabernacle is mishkan meaning, residence or dwelling place. (Look it up on the Web and you will see how elaborate this dwelling was. I used “dwelling from the book of Exodus” for my search and clicked on images.) The “Dwelling” is a new creation. A new place for God to be with the People of Israel. It replaces Mount Sinai. Once completed then the cloud descends upon it. Again, there is a change. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire at night now becomes one at the end of Exodus. The cloud fills the Dwelling with the “glory of the Lord” making it a holy place. When the cloud filled the Dwelling, Moses was not able to go into the Dwelling, unlike Mount Sinai where Moses could go but the people could not. The cloud image also carries over into the Gospels accounts of Jesus’ Transfiguration, “Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them. . .” Mark 9:7. God then tells the others the Jesus is his Son and they need to listen to him.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus and Martha have a conversation where Martha makes several faith statements about her belief “in the resurrection on the last day”. The last statement she makes is that she believes “you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” In the Gospels, when Jesus is healing someone, it is through that person’s faith or the faith of others that the person is healed. Martha, a woman who is portrayed as to busy to pray in the Gospel of Luke, is the one who has faith that Jesus is going to heal her brother or raise him from the dead in the Gospel of John. Jesus responds to her with one of the “I Am” statements:
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.
Jesus is the “dwelling” where all who believe can enter. No one who believes is kept out as in the Old Testament accounts of the “Dwelling” or the Temple built by Solomon. No veils or curtains. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus had great faith to believe that Jesus is the Son of God through their individual responses. Martha with her statement of faith. Mary with her awareness of the presence of Christ that she felt moved to sit at his feet and listen to his words. We don’t know about Lazarus but certainly he and Jesus were close friends that Jesus was moved by his death. These three Saints, who were in the presence of Christ, certainly give us hope in the Resurrection with their words and actions that are recorded in the Gospels.
How is Christ speaking to me today through the Scriptures?
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.