Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012 Discourse, John 6:1-15, St Martha, Psalm 147

Sunday, July 29, 2012
Discourse, John 6:1-15, St Martha, Psalm 147

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7..

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012

Today's Word:  discourse  dis·course  [n. dis-kawrs, -kohrs, dis-kawrs, -kohrs; v. dis-kawrs, -kohrs]

Origin:  1325–75; Middle English discours  < Medieval Latin discursus  (spelling by influence of Middle English cours  course), Late Latin:  conversation, Latin:  a running to and fro, equivalent to discur ( rere ) to run about ( dis- dis-1  + currere  to run) + -sus  for -tus  suffix of v. action

1. communication of thought by words; talk; conversation: earnest and intelligent discourse.
2. a formal discussion of a subject in speech or writing, as a dissertation, treatise, sermon, etc.
3. Linguistics . any unit of connected speech or writing longer than a sentence.
verb (used without object) communicate thoughts orally; talk; converse. treat of a subject formally in speech or writing.
verb (used with object)
6. to utter or give forth (musical sounds).

Today's Gospel Reading - John 6: 1-152

Sunday, July 29, 2012  17th Sunday of ordinary time (B)
Eating and sharing the bread of life
John 6: 1-15

1. Let us invoke the Holy Spirit
Our Father in heaven,
you have given us your beloved Son,
send your Spirit
that we may eat and savour your gift.
Give us our daily bodily and spiritual bread,
may it provoke in us a hunger and thirst
for you, for your Word and your banquet,
where you will satisfy us with your presence,
with your love and your shalom,
in the joy of the communion with the brothers and sisters that you give us this day,
that we may share with them the material and spiritual bread. Amen.

2. Understanding  Today's Gospel
a) The premises and key of biblical and liturgical reading:
* Our passage contains an unusual characteristic: it narrates the only “inflated” episode in the Gospels. In fact, all together it is told six times (once in Luke and John, twice in each of Mark and Matthew). Apart from any historical-critical evaluation of this unusual repetition, it is clear that early Christian tradition gave this episode great emphasis.

* Much discussion has gone on concerning the literary connections with the other Gospel stories, but really we cannot tell definitely whether there are any direct or indirect connections among the various Gospel stories. The nearest parallel to John seems to be the first text in Mark (6: 30-54), but John would have had an autonomous source, which he reworked so that it would fit in well with the discourse that follows.

* As is usual in the fourth Gospel, a discourse of great theological importance is closely coupled with the “sign”, which in this case is a miracle. Here, the discourse that follows covers almost the whole of the sixth chapter: it is the discourse on the “bread of life" (6: 26-59), the great source of theological reflection on the sacrament of the Eucharist.

* Throughout the text there are several references to actions, words and ideas characteristic of the Christian liturgy, thus there seems to be a close relationship between this passage and the liturgical tradition of the eucharistic celebration, especially in view of the fact that the Gospel of John makes no reference to the institution of the Eucharist

* In this year’s liturgical cycle, which is based on the Gospel of Mark, a series of Sunday Gospels taken from John are inserted at this point. The insertion takes place precisely where one would have expected the readings on the multiplication of the loaves. The choice of the first reading is a classical example of mutual illumination between the Testaments: we have the multiplication of loaves by the prophet Elisha (2Kings 4: 42-44). The parallel between the miracles throws light also on the prophetic aspect of the person of Jesus. Again, the second reading (Eph 4: 1-6) emphasises an aspect of the eucharistic life of the Church: the communion built around Christ and nourished by the one eucharistic bread.

* The main themes of this passage are those that concern the symbolism of the bread and of sharing the meal, it also has an eschatological dimension. Other important motifs present in the text are those of faith in Jesus and in his way of interpreting messianism, here expressed through the Old Testament figure of Moses.

b) A subdivision of the text for a better understanding:
vv. 1-4: Temporal, geographic and liturgical introduction.
vv. 5-10: The preparatory dialogue between Jesus and the disciples.
vv. 11-13: The meal “multiplied” and over-abundant.
vv. 14-15: The reactions of the people and of Jesus.

Add caption
Gospel - John 6 :1-15:

1 After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. 2 And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased. 3 Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples. 4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. 5 Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?" 6 This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little." 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, 9 "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?" 10 Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost." 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!" 15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

3. A moment of interior and exterior silence to allow the Word of God to impregnate our hearts and minds.

* It is Spring and Easter is close. The air is still fresh and this makes it easier to follow and listen to the now famous, though controversial, rabbi of Nazareth.
* As I read and reread, I hear a voice, but still saying rather “strange” things”: how is it possible to feed this great crowd of people?
* A few loaves and fewer fish…but we must not lose them, while we accept to share them. Look, they increase as we distribute them!
* At the end, we collect everything: it is very tiring, but bread is always precious, everywhere and at all times, especially this bread.
* I resume my journey with Him, without stopping, with a light and happy heart because of the great things that I have seen today, but also with a few more questions. I go on looking at Him and listening to Him, I let my heart echo His actions, the expressions of His face, His voice and His words.

4. The Word given to us 
* The “book of signs” of the fourth Gospel: Our passage comes from a part of the Gospel known as the “book of signs” (from 1: 19 to 12: 50), where we find descriptions of and comments on seven great “signs” of self-revelation (semeion, a symbolical miracle or action) worked by Jesus in this Gospel. Discourses and “signs” are closely correlated: theological discourses explain the “signs” and in the “signs” we find a concrete presentation of the contents of the discourses in a progressive deepening of the divine revelation and the consequent growing hostility towards Jesus.
* Chapter 6 of John: In an attempt to clarify the chronology and geographical details of chapter 6, some propose that we change the places of chapters 5 and 6. This, however, would not resolve all the problems. It is better, then, to keep and respect what tradition has passed on to us, keeping in mind the historical-editorial problems involved, so as not to “unduly stress something which does not seem to have had great importance for the Evangelist" (R. Brown).
* Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias: The lake is identified as having two names; the first is the traditional one, the second is adopted by John in the New Testament (also in 21: 1), perhaps because it had appeared recently in the life of Jesus and was, therefore, in common use after his death and widespread especially among the Greeks.
* And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased: Before this (2,:23-25) we come across a similar situation of many believers in Jesus who had seen the “signs” he had worked. In both situations, Jesus shows clearly that he disapproves of the motivation (2: 24-25; 6: 5. 26).
The “signs” on those who were diseased, namely the healings that Jesus worked in Galilee are told by John, except for the healing of the son of the regional official (4: 46-54). However, with these words, this Evangelist lets it be understood that he had not told all the events and that he had chosen a few among many that he could have communicated to the readers (cfr also 21: 25).
* Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples: There is no way of knowing which mountain. The scene of Jesus, like Moses, sitting surrounded by his disciples, is a recurring theme also found in the other Gospels (cfr Mk 4: 1; Mt 5: 1; Lk 4: 20). The action of sitting in order to teach was normal for rabbis, but John – contrary to Mk 5:34 – does not mention that Jesus taught on this occasion.
* Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand: The fourth Gospel makes three references to the celebration of the Passover by Jesus during his public life. This was the second (the first: 2: 13; the third: 11: 55) and we are told the religious and theological circumstances of everything said and done in chapter 6: the “bread given” by God like the manna, the going up the mountain by Jesus, like Moses, the crossing of the water as during the exodus (in the following episode: 6: 16-21), the discourse on the theme of the bread that comes from God. Concerning the relationship between the manna given to Israel in the desert and the multiplication of the loaves, there are also several parallels recalling Numbers 11 (vv. 1. 7-9. 13. 22).
Some actions of Jesus (for instance, the breaking of the bread), as also the many theological themes touched upon in the following discourse, are clear references to the liturgical actions of the seder at the Passover and to the liturgical readings in the synagogue for the feast. The Passover is a springtime feast and, in fact, John notes that “there was much grass in the place” (6: 10; cfr Mt 14: 19 e Mk 6:39).
* Seeing that a multitude was coming to him: At the beginning of the narrative, it seemed that the people had been following him before, whereas here John seems to say that the crowd was arriving. Perhaps this is a reference to one of John’s favourite themes and one greatly emphasised in this chapter: the coming to Jesus, an expression synonymous with complete adhesion to the faith (3: 21; 5: 40; 6: 35. 37. 45; 7: 37 and elsewhere).
* Jesus said to Philip… Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother: These are two of the Twelve who in this Gospel seem to have a special role (cfr 1: 44 and 12: 21-22), whereas in the other Gospels they remain in the shadows. It seems that they were particularly venerated in Asia Minor, where the Gospel of John was written.
* “How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”: The question addressed to Philip may possibly be justified because he came from that geographical region. If we interpret this question in the light of similar questions in the whole Gospel (1: 48; 2: 9; 4: 11; 7: 27-28; 8: 14; 9: 29-30; 19: 9), we discover its Christological importance: asking from where the gift comes is also to seek to understand the origin of the giver, in this case, Jesus. Thus the question leads to the seeking the divine origin of Jesus.
* This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do: The “testing” the reaction of the disciple is indicated by a verb (peirazein) which usually has a negative meaning, of temptation, checking or deceit. The role of this sentence, however, is to protect the reader against any doubt that Jesus’ question may be interpreted as ignorance.
* “Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little”: The amount is equivalent to a labourer’s salary for two hundred days of work (cfr. Mt 20: 13; 22: 2).
Mark (6: 37) puts it in such a way the we may think that such a quantity of bread would be sufficient for the present need, but John wants to emphasise the greatness of the divine intervention and the disproportion of human resources. Andrew’s words, which follow, have the same purpose: "… but what are they among so many?"
* “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish”: Judging by the double diminutive of the Greek text (paidarion), the lad is really a small child: someone with no social standing. The same term is used in 2Kings (4: 12. 14.25; 5: 20) for the servant of Elisha, Giezi.
Barley loaves, unlike loaves made from wheat, were particularly simple food and cheap, used by poor people. It would seem (cfr Lk 11: 5) that the meal for one person was made up of three loaves. The dried fish (opsarion, again the use of a double diminutive) was the common food to go with the bread.
* “Make the people sit down…in number about five thousand”: In reality, according to the custom of the times, Jesus commands that they “lay down” or to “stretch out”: the meal has to be eaten in comfort, just as it is prescribed for the ritual meal of the Passover and as of obligation in banquets. All the Gospel reports of this episode only refer to the number of men present.
* “Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them…so also the fish”: These actions and words of Jesus are very close to those of the eucharistic rite, although we cannot say that the one derives from the other.
* "When he had given thanks" is a translation of eucharistein, which was commonly used as distinct from eulogein, to bless, the verb used by the synoptic Gospels here; the first verb is characteristic of the Greek milieu, whereas the second comes directly from the milieu of Hebrew culture. If we take into account the language in use at the time of writing of the Gospels, then we cannot say that there are any significant differences of content between the expressions, even though John’s expression is, for us who are used to the Christian liturgical language, a much more direct reminder of the eucharistic sacrament. This is so true that the fourth Evangelist uses the same verb also in 11: 41, where we find some reminders of the sacrament.
As presider at the ritual Passover table, Jesus personally breaks the bread and gives it directly to the people. In the same way he will do this at the last supper. Most probably, however, things proceeded the way the synoptic Gospels describe them: Jesus gave the broken bread to the disciples so that they might distribute it. In fact, the crowd was too large for Him to be able to do it all alone. John, then, wishes to concentrate the whole attention of his readers on the person of Jesus, true and only giver of “the bread from heaven”.
Let us follow closely the sequence of events: the multiplication takes place only after the breaking and the breaking of the bread takes place only after a “small lad” courageously gives up all of his trivial resources. Those poor, small loaves are multiplied as they are broken! Jesus multiplies what we accept, a little blindly, to share with Him and with others.
* As much as they wanted … they had eaten their fill: It is the abundance promised by the prophets when the time of šalom and of the festive eschatological banquet comes (cfr, e.g. Is 25: 6; 30: 23; 49: 9; 56: 7-9; Os 11: 4; Sl 37: 19; 81: 17; 132: 15).
Thus, the crowd is not wrong when it says of Jesus "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world": a prophet who fulfils the divine promise of sending a prophet “equal to Moses” (Dt 18: 15-18) and who ushers in the messianic times preparing a free and abundant banquet, as promised by the ancient prophets.
* “Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost": The disciples appear on the scene with the task of not letting any of the precious bread go to waste. In fact, this too is a “bread that perishes” and cannot be compared with the true “bread from heaven” (cfr 6: 24). The command to gather (synagein) the fragments recalls the prescription regarding the manna (cfr Ex 16: 16 ff.).
* So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves: We cannot tell for certain whether the number of baskets is connected with the number of disciples. What is certain is that these words want to emphasise again the great abundance of food from those small barley loaves blessed by Jesus. John seems to pay scant attention to the two fishes offered with the bread, perhaps because the discourse that follows is all about bread.
* When the people saw the sign: The motive that John gives for the miracle just worked is not compassion for the crowd; this would have been well understood by the disciples present, who, however, according to Mark (6: 52 and 8: 14-21), did not understand the meaning of what had taken place.
The fourth Gospel, then, shows the “sign” significance of the miracle.
* Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself: Contrary to the other Evangelists, John gives the reason for Jesus’ sudden disappearance after the miracle: he wanted to prevent that his role as Messiah might be “fouled” by political manifestations by the crowd. Jesus once more makes clear his choice (cfr Mt 4: 1-10), which he will repeat right to the end before Pilate (19: 33-37).

5. A few questions to direct our reflection and its practice

a) The bread is multiplied because someone “very small” has the courage to renounce hanging on to his security (even though it was minimal, it was a little like the Hebrews hankering after the life in Egypt) risking failure or shamefacedness. The “young lad” of the Gospel story believes in Jesus, even though Jesus had promised nothing on this occasion. Would I, would we do the same?
b) The lad is an insignificant person, the loaves are few and the fish even fewer. In the hands of Jesus everything becomes great and beautiful. There is a huge disproportion between what we are and what God can make of us, if we place ourselves in His hands. "Nothing is impossible for God": not converting the hardest of hearts, not transforming evil into and an instrument for good… God fills in every disproportion between us and him. Do I really believe this, in the bottom of my heart, even when everything seems to contradict it?
c) The material bread offered by God refers us to the bread we ought to share with so many men and women who, on this same earth we live on and whose resources we waste so thoughtlessly, struggle desperately for a slice of bread. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread” do we at least think of those who have no bread and how we can help them?
d) Physical hunger and material bread remind us also of the “hunger for God” and the eschatological banquet. These are truths that we often put out of our thoughts because we prefer to think that they are far and distant from us. And yet, if we keep them present, they would help us to see the relative value of so many events and problems that seem to us greater than ourselves, and to live a more serene life busying ourselves only with what is essential. When, during the eucharistic celebration we say "…as we wait in joyful hope" are we really fervently waiting for the glorious return of the One who loves us and who even now takes care of us?

6. Closing prayer
From its earliest days, the Church has celebrated the Eucharist as the supper of the Passover of the Lord where it echoes the event of the multiplication of the loaves. Thus, our closing prayer today is one inherited from the Christians of the first century:
We thank you, Father, for life and the knowledge you have revealed to us through Jesus your servant. Glory to you forever.
Just as the broken bread was scattered here and there over the hills and when gathered became one, so now, may your Church be gathered in your Kingdom from the ends of the earth;
for yours is the glory and the power, through Jesus Christ forever.
We thank you, holy Father,
for your holy name that you make present in our hearts,
and for the knowledge, faith and immortality
that you revealed to us through Jesus, your servant.
To you Glory forever.
You, all powerful Lord, have created all things to the glory of your name;
you have given humankind food and drink for comfort, so that humankind may give you thanks;
but you have given us a spiritual food and drink and eternal life through your servant.
Above all, we thank you because you are powerful.
To you be glory forever.
Remember, Lord, your Church,
preserve her from every evil
and make her perfect in your love;
made holy, gather her from the four corners of the earth into your kingdom, prepared for her.
For yours is the power and the glory forever.
May your grace come, and may this world pass by.
Hosanna to the house of David.
(from the Didaché, 9-10)

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,

Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane

Saint of the Day:  St. Martha

Feast Day: July 29
Patron Saint of :

butlers; cooks; dietitians; domestic servants; homemakers; hotel-keepers; housemaids; housewives; innkeepers; laundry workers; maids; manservants; servants; servers; single laywomen; travellers; Villajoyosa, Spain

Christ at the house of Mary and Martha
Martha of Bethany (Aramaic מַרְתָּא Martâ) is a biblical figure described in the Gospels of Luke and John. Together with her siblings Lazarus and Mary, she is described as living in the village of Bethany near Jerusalem. She is the middle child of her family with Lazarus being the eldest and her sister Mary Magdalene the youngest. She was witness to Jesus' resurrection of her brother, Lazarus.

Etymology of the name

The name Martha is a Latin transliteration of the Koine Greek Μαρθα, itself a translation of the Aramaic מַרְתָּא Martâ, "The mistress" or "the lady", from מרה "mistress", feminine of מר "master". The Aramaic form occurs in a Nabatean inscription found at Puteoli, and now in the Naples Museum; it is dated AD. 5 (Corpus Inscr. Semit., 158); also in a Palmyrene inscription, where the Greek translation has the form Marthein.

Biblical references

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus visits the home of two sisters named Mary and Martha. The two sisters are contrasted: Martha was "cumbered about many things" while Jesus was their guest, while Mary had chosen "the better part", that of listening to the master's discourse. The name of their village is not recorded, nor any mention of whether Jesus was near Jerusalem:
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
- (Luke 10:38-42, New International Version)

In the Gospel of John, Martha and Mary appear in connection two incidents: the raising from the dead of her brother Lazarus (John 11) and the anointing of Jesus at the home of Simon the Leper (John 12:3).
In the account of the raising of Lazarus, Jesus meets with the sisters in turn: Martha followed by Mary. Martha goes immediately to meet Jesus as he arrives, while Mary waits until she is called. As one commentator notes, "Martha, the more aggressive sister, went to meet Jesus, while quiet and contemplative Mary stayed home. This portrayal of the sisters agrees with that found in Luke 10:38-42." In speaking with Jesus, both sisters lament that he did not arrive in time to prevent their brother's death: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21,32). But where Jesus' response to Mary is more emotional, his response to Martha is one of teaching calling her to hope and faith:
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. "Lord", Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
"Yes, Lord", she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
- (John 11:20-27, New International Version)

As the narrative continues, Martha calls her sister Mary to see Jesus. Jesus has Mary bring him to Lazarus' tomb where he commands the stone to be removed from its entrance. Martha here objects, "But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days", to which Jesus replies, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:39-40). They then take away the stone and Jesus prays and calls Lazarus forth alive from the tomb.

Martha appears again in John 12:1-8, where she serves at a meal held in Jesus' honor at which her brother is also a guest. The narrator only mentions that the meal takes place in Bethany, while the apparently parallel accounts in the Gospels of Matthew (Matthew 26:6-13) and Mark (Mark 14:3-9) specify that it takes place at the home of one Simon the Leper. As the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, "We are surely justified in arguing that, since Matthew and Mark place the scene in the house of Simon, St. John must be understood to say the same; it remains to be proved that Martha could not 'serve' in Simon's house." It is at this meal that a woman (Martha's sister Mary, according to John) anoints Jesus with expensive perfume.

Catholic traditions

In Roman Catholic tradition, Martha's sister Mary was often equated with Mary Magdalene. Therefore, additional information is supposed for Martha as well:
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are represented by St. John as living at Bethania, but St. Luke would seem to imply that they were, at least at one time, living in Galilee; he does not mention the name of the town, but it may have been Magdala, and we should thus, supposing Mary of Bethania and Mary Magdalene to be the same person, understand the appellative "Magdalene". The words of St. John (11:1) seem to imply a change of residence for the family. It is possible, too, that St. Luke has displaced the incident referred to in Chapter 10. The likeness between the pictures of Martha presented by Luke and John is very remarkable. The familiar intercourse between the Saviour of the world and the humble family which St. Luke depicts is dwelt on by St. John when he tells us that "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus" (11:5). Again the picture of Martha's anxiety (John 11:20-21, 39) accords with the picture of her who was "busy about much serving" (Luke 10:40); so also in John 12:2: "They made him a supper there: and Martha served." But St. John has given us a glimpse of the other and deeper side of her character when he depicts her growing faith in Christ's Divinity (11:20-27), a faith which was the occasion of the words: "I am the resurrection and the life." The Evangelist has beautifully indicated the change that came over Martha after that interview: "When she had said these things, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The Master is come, and calleth for thee."

Golden Legend

According to legend, St Martha left Judea after Jesus' death, around AD 48, and went to Provence with her sister Mary (conflated with Mary Magdalene) and her brother Lazarus. With them, Martha first settled in Avignon (now in France). The Golden Legend, compiled in the 13th century, records the Provençal tradition:
Saint Martha, hostess of our Lord Jesus Christ, was born of a royal kindred. Her father was named Syro and her mother Encharia. The father of her was duke of Syria and places maritime, and Martha with her sister possessed by the heritage of their mother three places, that was, the castle Magdalen, and Bethany and a part of Jerusalem. It is nowhere read that Martha had ever any husband ne fellowship of man, but she as a noble hostess ministered and served our Lord, and would also that her sister should serve him and help her, for she thought that all the world was not sufficient to serve such a guest.

After the ascension of our Lord, when the disciples were departed, she with her brother Lazarus and her sister Mary, also Saint Maximin [actually a 3rd-century figure] which baptized them, and to whom they were committed of the Holy Ghost, and many others, were put into a ship without sail, oars, or rudder governail, of the paynims, which by the conduct of our Lord they came all to Marseilles, and after came to the territory of Aquense or Aix, and there converted the people to the faith. Martha was right facound of speech, and courteous and gracious to the sight of the people.

The Golden Legend also records the grand lifestyle imagined for Martha and her siblings in its entry on Mary Magdalene:
Mary Magdalene had her surname of Magdalo, a castle, and was born of right noble lineage and parents, which were descended of the lineage of kings. And her father was named Cyrus, and her mother Eucharis. She with her brother Lazarus, and her sister Martha, possessed the castle of Magdalo, which is two miles from Nazareth, and Bethany, the castle which is nigh to Jerusalem, and also a great part of Jerusalem, which, all these things they departed among them. In such wise that Mary had the castle Magdalo, whereof she had her name Magdalene. And Lazarus had the part of the city of Jerusalem, and Martha had to her part Bethany. And when Mary gave herself to all delights of the body, and Lazarus entended all to knighthood, Martha, which was wise, governed nobly her brother's part and also her sister's, and also her own, and administered to knights, and her servants, and to poor men, such necessities as they needed. Nevertheless, after the ascension of our Lord, they sold all these things.

St. Martha in Tarascon

St Martha's Collegiate Church in Tarascon
A further legend relates that Martha then went to Tarascon, where a monster, the Tarasque, was a constant threat to the population. Martha managed to tame the monster and eventually died in Tarascon, where she was buried. Her tomb is located in the crypt of the local Collegiate Church. Again, the Golden Legend provides the details:

There was that time upon the river of Rhone, in a certain wood between Arles and Avignon, a great dragon, half beast and half fish, greater than an ox, longer than an horse, having teeth sharp as a sword, and horned on either side, head like a lion, tail like a serpent, and defended him with two wings on either side, and could not be beaten with cast of stones ne with other armour, and was as strong as twelve lions or bears; which dragon lay hiding and lurking in the river, and perished them that passed by and drowned ships. He came thither by sea from Galicia, and was engendered of Leviathan, which is a serpent of the water and is much wood, and of a beast called Bonacho, that is engendered in Galicia. And when he is pursued he casts out of his belly behind, his ordure, the space of an acre of land on them that follow him, and it is bright as glass, and what it toucheth it burneth as fire. To whom Martha, at the prayer of the people, came into the wood, and found him eating a man. And she cast on him holy water, and showed to him the cross, which anon was overcome, and standing still as a sheep, she bound him with her own girdle, and then was slain with spears and glaives of the people. The dragon was called of them that dwelled in the country Tarasconus, whereof, in remembrance of him that place is called Tarasconus, which tofore was called Nerluc, and the Black Lake, because there be woods shadowous and black. And there the blessed Martha, by licence of Maximin her master, and of her sister, dwelled and abode in the same place after, and daily occupied in prayers and in fastings, and thereafter assembled and were gathered together a great convent of sisters, and builded a fair church at the honour of the blessed Mary virgin, where she led a hard and a sharp life. She eschewed flesh and all fat meat, eggs, cheese and wine; she ate but once a day. An hundred times a day and an hundred times a night she kneeled down and bowed her knees.

The dedication of the Collegiate Church at Tarascon to St. Martha is believed to date from the 9th century or earlier. Relics found in the church during a reconstruction in 1187 were identified as hers, and reburied in a new shrine at that time. In the Collegiate Church crypt is a late 15th century cenotaph, also known as the Gothic Tomb of Saint Martha. It is the work of Francesco Laurana, a Croatian sculptor of the Italian School, commissioned by King René. At its base are two openings through which the relics could be touched. It bears three low reliefs separated by fluted pilasters representing : on the left, Saint Martha and the Tarasque; in the center, Saint Mary Magdalene born aloft by the angels; on the right, Lazarus as Bishop of Marseille with his mitre and staff. There are two figures on either side: on the left, Saint Front, Bishop of Perrigueux, present at the funeral of Saint Martha, and on the right, Saint Marcelle, Martha's servant.

St. Martha and Villajoyosa

The town of Villajoyosa, Spain honors St. Martha as its patron saint and celebrates The Festival of Moors and Christians annually in her honor. The 250-year old festival commemorates the attack on Villajoyosa by Berber pirates led by Zalé-Arraez in 1538, when, according to legend, St. Martha came to the rescue of the townsfolk by causing a flash flood which wiped out the enemy fleet, thus preventing the corsairs from reaching the coast.

Eastern Orthodox tradition

In Orthodox Church tradition, though not specifically named as such in the gospels, Martha and Mary were among the Myrrh-bearing Women. These faithful followers of Jesus stood at Golgotha during the Crucifixion of Jesus and later came to his tomb early on the morning following Sabbath with myrrh (expensive oil), according to the Jewish tradition, to anoint their Lord's body. The Myrrhbearers became the first witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus, finding the empty tomb and hearing the joyful news from an angel.

Orthodox tradition also relates that Martha's brother Lazarus was cast out of Jerusalem in the persecution against the Jerusalem Church following the martyrdom of St. Stephen. His sister Martha fled Judea with him, assisting him in the proclaiming of the Gospel in various lands. While Mary Magdalene remained with John the Apostle and assisted him with the Church of Jerusalem. The three later came to Cyprus, where Lazarus became the first Bishop of Kittim (modern Larnaca). All three died in Cyprus.

Veneration or commemoration as a saint

Martha is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox churches, and commemorated by the Lutheran Church and the Anglican Communion.

Feast days

In the Roman Catholic tradition, her feast day is celebrated July 29. Her celebration, classified as a "Semi-Double" in the Tridentine Calendar, became a "Simple" in the General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII, a "Third-Class Feast" in the General Roman Calendar of 1962, and an obligatory "Memorial" in the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints.

In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions, Martha and her sister Mary are commemorated on June 4. They are also commemorated collectively among the Myrrh-bearing Women on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers (the Third Sunday of Pascha—i.e., the second Sunday after Easter). She also figures in the commemorations of Lazarus Saturday (the day before Palm Sunday).

Martha is commemorated on July 29 in the Calendar of Saints of the Lutheran Church (together with her siblings Mary and Lazarus) and in the Calendar of saints of the Episcopal Church and the Church of England (together with her sister Mary).

References: Courtesy of the Catholic Online, and Courtesy of Wikipedia,

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Today's Snippet:  Psalm 147

Praising God in a hymn with a Passover flavour to Him
who provides food and every kind of subsistence 
to the “little ones” of his people and to every living creature.
Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is seemly.
The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the broken-hearted,
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars,
he gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
The Lord lifts up the downtrodden,
he casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God upon the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds,
he prepares rain for the earth,
he makes grass grow upon the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens which cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man;
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.