Traditionally, this day has been the memorial of St Martha but earlier this year Pope Francis changed this feast and included, as part of it, not only Martha but Mary and Lazarus as well.
Today, as we celebrate the lives of these three siblings, Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of John (11: 19-27) about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. After the Gospel, Fr Paul shares a bit more about this memorial.
As we heard in the today’s Gospel, Martha was the sister of Mary of Bethany and of Lazarus. For many centuries now there has been some debate as to the actual identity of Mary. There has been some debate and confusion over who she really was. Some thought she was Mary of Magdalene, whose feast day we celebrated on 22 July. However, it seems that current modern scholarship has cleared things up in relation to the identity of this Mary.
And so, this year as Pope Francis has deemed, we celebrate all three people as part of this feast: Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
You’ll see in the artwork behind Fr Paul, Martha and Mary kneeling next to Jesus and you’ll see Jesus in the act of raising Lazarus from the dead. One can only wonder at the faith of Martha and Mary. It is a beautiful testimony where at the end of the Gospel today, Martha makes this statement, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who has come into this world” and it is with faith like this that Martha had said earlier 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”.
This demonstrates the beautiful faith that Martha, Mary and Lazarus shared. It, also, celebrates the beautiful relationship that these three people had with our Lord because there a number of times in our scriptures where Jesus enjoyed their company and spent time with them.
So as we do, in the tradition of our Church, today especially we pray that Martha, Mary and Lazarus pray for us.