Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were siblings who lived in Bethany. They shared a close bond with Jesus Christ, providing us with valuable insights into the depths of faith, devotion, and friendship with the Son of God.
Lazarus - Raised from the Dead
The story of Lazarus is one of the most miraculous and awe-inspiring accounts in the New Testament. When Lazarus fell seriously ill, his sisters, Martha and Mary, sent word to Jesus, knowing that He had the power to heal their brother. However, by the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already passed away and had been buried for four days.
In the face of immense grief, Martha's faith remained steadfast. When Jesus declared, "I am the resurrection and the life," Martha expressed her profound belief in Him, affirming that she knew He was the Son of God, who had the power to raise the dead. Witnessing this powerful faith, Jesus was moved, and He performed the miraculous act of raising Lazarus from the dead, revealing His divine authority over life and death.
In times of despair and hopelessness, we are called to emulate Martha's unwavering faith. Even in the darkest moments, trusting in Jesus and acknowledging Him as the source of life can lead to extraordinary blessings.
Martha - The Hospitable Servant
Martha, often portrayed as the busy homemaker, is perhaps the most relatable figure in this trio of saints. When Jesus visited their home, Martha, burdened with the responsibilities of hosting, complained to Jesus that her sister Mary was not helping. Jesus gently admonished Martha, telling her that she was anxious and worried about many things, whereas Mary had chosen the better path of being with Him.
While this incident might give the impression that Martha was reprimanded for her service, it is essential to understand that Martha's hospitality was commendable. She had a genuine desire to serve Jesus and make Him feel welcome. In fact, in the Gospel of John, it was Martha who first professed her belief in Jesus as the Messiah.
Martha's story reminds us of the significance of hospitality and service, especially in the context of our relationship with Christ. We should strive to serve others with love and devotion, but also ensure that we strike a balance and make time to be present with the Lord.
Mary - The Listener and the Disciple
Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, is depicted as a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. On one occasion, she chose to sit at Jesus' feet and listen to His teachings, rather than being preoccupied with the household chores, as her sister Martha was. Jesus praised Mary for her attentive spirit, highlighting that she had chosen "the better part" – that of spiritual nourishment.
Mary's humility and desire to learn from Jesus earned her a special place in His heart. It was Mary who anointed Jesus' feet with expensive perfume, an act of profound love and devotion, which Jesus appreciated and foretold that it would be remembered wherever the Gospel is preached.
Mary's example teaches us the importance of setting aside time for spiritual nourishment and listening to the teachings of Christ. In the hustle and bustle of our lives, we must prioritize our relationship with Jesus above all else, cherishing moments of intimacy with Him in prayer and meditation on His Word.
Faith, Devotion, and Friendship
The lives of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are intertwined with remarkable faith, devotion, and friendship with Jesus Christ. Lazarus' resurrection, Mary's attentive discipleship, and Martha's hospitable service all offer valuable lessons for us today. Their stories inspire us to deepen our faith, prioritize spiritual growth, and cultivate a loving relationship with Christ. Let us seek their intercession and follow their examples as we journey on the path of holiness and grace.
Their feast day is July 29. Originally this was the feast day for St. Martha only, but on January 26, 2021, Pope Francis designated this as a celebration of all three siblings.
Patron Saint of ...
St. Martha is the patron saint of cooks, dietitians, homemakers, hotel keepers, single laywomen, maids, and travelers.
All three saints are the patron saints of siblings.
Daily Mass Readings for the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus
The Gospel for this memorial is proper and is shown below. The first reading and psalm may be from the weekday readings, the readings below, or from the Common of Holy Men and Women.
- First Reading - 1 John 4:7-16: Let's love one another, for love is from God. He sent His Son to give us life and cleanse our sins. Love shows we remain in Him. Acknowledge Jesus as Son of God, and God remains in us. God is love; staying in love means staying in God.
- Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 34: I'll bless the LORD always, praising Him joyfully. Seek Him; He answers and saves from fears. Trust, take refuge, and see how good He is. Fear Him, lack nothing.
- Gospel - John 11:19-27: Jesus arrives after Lazarus' death. Martha meets Him, expressing faith. Jesus says resurrection and life come through Him. Martha believes, acknowledging Him as the Christ and Son of God.
- Alternate Gospel - Luke 10:38-42: Jesus visits sisters Mary and Martha. Martha busily serves while Mary sits at Jesus' feet, listening. Martha complains, but Jesus praises Mary for choosing the better path.
Homilies and Reflections
From Bishop Robert Barron. In today's Gospel, Jesus declares himself as the resurrection and the life, emphasizing his role as a cosmic warrior battling against the forces that hinder true life. While some may portray Jesus as a gentle moral teacher, the Gospels present him as a powerful force confronting the effects of death in society. Jesus addresses violence, hatred, egotism, exclusion, false religion, and artificial community, but his ultimate adversary is death itself. Like Frodo facing Mordor, Jesus enters the domain of death, engaging in close combat to overcome it. At Lazarus' tomb, Jesus displays profound emotions, demonstrating God's willingness to fully experience the darkness and agony of human death.
In this USCCB video reflection, the analogy of setting up a lemonade stand from scratch is used to illustrate the challenging journey of the spiritual life. Just as making homemade lemonade takes time and effort but is worth it, the path to Christ may be long and difficult, but it leads to a deeper understanding and a closer relationship with Him. Like Martha, who initially questions, we too can come full circle and recognize Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, as we continue on this meaningful journey of faith.
In this USCCB video reflection, the unique relationship between Jesus and these siblings is explored. Martha's hospitality and dedication to serving others are highlighted, showing her initial worry and distraction, but also her deep faith and courage. Her example reminds us of the importance of service and being present to Jesus in our daily lives, even in the ordinary and unnoticed tasks. As we honor her as the patron saint of those who serve, we are encouraged to imitate her selfless devotion and to put our whole selves into serving others, reflecting Jesus's love and compassion.
Quotes and Social Media Graphic
Frequently Asked Questions
What date Is the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus?
It is observed annually on July 29.
What are the Mass readings for the Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus?
Who were Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus?
Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were siblings and close friends of Jesus Christ. They were residents of Bethany, a village near Jerusalem during the time of Christ's ministry. The Gospel of John and the Synoptic Gospels mention them several times, highlighting their significant relationship with Jesus.
Who are Sts. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus of Bethany the patron saints of?
St. Martha is the patron saint of cooks, dietitians, homemakers, hotel keepers, single laywomen, maids, and travelers. All three of them together are the patron saint of siblings.
What is the significance of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in the Catholic Church?
The Catholic Church venerates Martha, Mary, and Lazarus for their unwavering faith and their unique relationships with Jesus. Their story exemplifies different forms of devotion and service to Christ, making them inspirational figures for Catholics seeking a deeper connection with God.
What were the distinct roles of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in the Gospels?
Martha is often depicted as the hostess and caregiver, showing hospitality and serving Jesus and His disciples. Mary, on the other hand, was recognized for her contemplative nature, as she preferred sitting at the feet of Jesus to listen and learn from Him. Lazarus is famously known for being raised from the dead by Jesus after being in the tomb for four days.
What is the significance of the story of Martha and Mary in the Gospels?
The story of Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42) is a powerful lesson about balancing action and contemplation in the Christian life. Martha symbolizes the active life of service, while Mary represents the contemplative life of prayer and reflection. Jesus gently reminds Martha not to be overly anxious and to find time for spiritual nourishment.
What is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead?
The account of Lazarus' resurrection is found in the Gospel of John (John 11:1-44). Jesus arrived in Bethany to find Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Despite Martha's initial doubt, Jesus went to the tomb and called Lazarus back to life, demonstrating His power over death and foreshadowing His own Resurrection.
Is Saint Lazarus different from the Lazarus in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man?
Yes, they are different individuals. Saint Lazarus of Bethany, the brother of Martha and Mary, is the one whom Jesus raised from the dead. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) tells the story of a poor man named Lazarus and a rich man who ignored him. In the parable, Lazarus dies and is carried by angels to Abraham's side, while the rich man faces torment in Hades. These two Lazaruses are not the same person and are separate accounts with different meanings.
Is Saint Mary of Bethany the same as Mary Magdalene?
For much of Church history they were assumed to be the same person. However in recent Catholic tradition, Saint Mary of Bethany is generally considered a distinct individual from St. Mary Magdalene.
How can we emulate Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus in our lives?
We can emulate these saints by fostering a balance between action and contemplation in our spiritual lives. Like Martha, we should strive to serve others with love and dedication, being hospitable and caring for those in need. Like Mary, we should make time for prayer, reflection, and learning from Jesus through Scripture and the teachings of the Church. And like Lazarus, we should trust in the resurrection power of Christ, knowing that He can bring new life to our souls and heal us from our spiritual wounds.