29 July – Memorial for St. Martha
Jesus liked to stay at the house of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, his friends at Bethany, when he was in Judaea. One of these visits has ever remained dear to Christian memory. On that occasion Martha, busily serving the Master, asked Him to persuade Mary to help her. Jesus explained to her that certain souls, called by God, should choose a better part still — the primary duty of listening to Him and contemplating Him.
After His Ascension, she was seized by the Jews, together with many other Christians. They were put on board a ship without sails or oars, and left helpless on the open sea. But God guided the ship, and they all arrived safely at Marseilles. Martha, after having won the love and admiration of the Marseilles people by the sanctity of her life and her wonderful charity, withdrew with several virtuous women to a spot remote from men, where she lived for a long time, greatly renowned for her piety and prudence.
At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word was addressed to Jeremiah by the Lord, ‘The Lord says this: Stand in the court of the Temple of the Lord. To all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the Temple of the Lord you must speak all the words I have commanded you to tell them; do not omit one syllable. Perhaps they will listen and each turn from his evil way: if so, I shall relent and not bring the disaster on them which I intended for their misdeeds. Say to them, “The Lord says this: If you will not listen to me by following my Law which I put before you, by paying attention to the words of my servants the prophets whom I send so persistently to you, without your ever listening to them, I will treat this Temple as I treated Shiloh, and make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.”’
The priests and prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah say these words in the Temple of the Lord. When Jeremiah had finished saying everything that the Lord had ordered him to say to all the people, the priests and prophets seized hold of him and said, ‘You shall die! Why have you made this prophecy in the name of the Lord, “This Temple will be like Shiloh, and this city will be desolate, and uninhabited”?’ And the people were all crowding round Jeremiah in the Temple of the Lord.
Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to sympathise 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.’ Jesus said:
‘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.’
How can I restore what I have never stolen?
I am deeply saddened that I cannot share my faith about many sensitive issues now without being labeled a bigot. The world seems to have evolved into a place where to disagree with a lifestyle means to disagree with the person. And by speaking up against the lifestyle, you become a thief who has stolen someone’s peace of mind by trumpeting the truth. How can you restore their peace if you were not the one who stole it in the first place?
For prophesying as God commanded, Jeremiah was nearly killed. During the legalization of LGBT marriages, I put up a comment on Facebook that while I respect the rights to life of LGBT community, I cannot agree with same-sex unions for a variety of reasons. In return, I got hate comments on my wall. It still bothers me that rainbow profiles abounded that time, yet I did not have the courage to continue professing the truth – I felt like a thief.
As I write this reflection, I was hoping to end with a phrase that triumphs over this tribulation but I will not be doing that. The first reading ended with the crowd rounding Jeremiah. I would like to invite you, my brothers and sisters, to look at this ending as a challenge to us. Standing up for the truth might cause us despair, we will be accused of being thiefs, non-conformists, and backward. Our safety might even be compromised but we need to continue to struggle to become messengers of God – no matter how much the world is against us.
Let us continue asking God for help, and let us continue prophesying. Let us prophesy always, sometimes, let’s not hesitate to use kind words.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Lord, it is you and me against the world. Give us to courage to persevere through what we have been baptized for – to be prophets for you.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to see and accept the truth of life.