Daily Gospel Reflection for July 29, 2015


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Today’s Gospel: John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42

Memorial of Saint Martha

So often we hear of St. Martha in a disparaging connotation or, at the very least, a dismissive one. Nearly every Christian has heard the famous story of Mary and Martha, in which Jesus tells Martha she is always anxious and should choose to follow the example of her sister, Mary: to listen, to reflect, to stop her busyness. Naturally, many women can relate to St. Martha because most of us are doers; we enjoy serving others, caring, and nurturing. It is difficult for us to stop rushing, cooking, or cleaning when guests arrive and instead enjoy their company. Guilt may even slowly emerge when we are inactive.

Today’s Gospel illustrates St. Martha in a different light, however. We catch a glimpse of her heart and her zeal as she seeks Jesus after her brother, Lazarus, has died. Her faith is immense in this description of approaching Jesus and in her supplication: “Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” How many of us exhibit this great confidence in desperate times, in hopeless situations?

Jesus responds, “Your brother will rise,” and while He meant this statement both literally and figuratively, St. Martha – in her typical fashion – responds that she does, in fact, believe Lazarus will be raised to eternal life one day. In our humanity, we don’t often see or hear beyond the mere words spoken to our hearts by Jesus – or even other people. We tend to forget that the most meaningful language is the language of the heart, which extends beyond the words expressed into the depth of a person’s understanding of the other, the one who speaks to us.

Jesus knows this about us, just as He knew it about St. Martha; this is why He clarified for her that, not only would Lazarus be raised on the last day, but he would also rise precisely because Jesus Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. Martha, in turn, replies with great anticipation, “I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

Today we understand that, despite St. Martha’s busyness, she still carries a bold and confident faith in Jesus; her heart knows that He is the Son of God, born to save humanity from eternal death. Certainly she was surrounded by many who believed her – and all of Jesus’ disciples – to be mad, and yet her faith prevailed. May we imitate St. Martha’s zeal and confidence in Jesus, especially when life seems dim and grim to us.


Do I listen to Jesus with my heart, or do I simply skim the words of Scripture and apply a rudimentary, superficial meaning from them to my life? How can I learn to connect my heart with the heart of Jesus so that I know what He is speaking beyond mere words?


St. Martha, I thank you for displaying your humanity in such an authentic way because I can relate to the hurried and harried nature you expressed in your life. But I see today that you also carried an immense and prevailing confidence in Jesus as your Savior, so I ask you to intercede for me today. Pray that, like you, I may boldly acknowledge that Jesus can – and does – do anything He wills, even and especially the impossible, because He truly is God. Amen.

We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.

Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing


About Author

Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach. She is the co-author of From Grief to Grace: The Journey from Tragedy to Triumph and Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition and a dozen other podcasts and radio shows. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief and parenting children with special needs. For more information on her professional services, visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.

1 Comment

  1. This was a good reading and reflection for me after such a long hard day at work.

    I often associated this passage with the Third Scrutiny in the RCIA process, as we move from Jesus as Living Water and Jesus as Light for the Blind, to Jesus as Lord over life and death. This passage is also a favorite Gospel selection at parish funeral services. There, like in your reflection, the church proclaims in stark, strident terms our belief in resurrection. Yet at the same time, the funeral casket or urn of our beloved departed is there before us. We can no more pay lip service to our beliefs in this moment than we can cry crocodile tears and be authentic.

    As a dramatist, I have often worked with this scene imagining that Jesus and Lazarus were drinking buddies who would meet up at a tavern whenever Jesus came into town and perhaps cause some mischief. So when Martha comes upon Jesus in the tavern this time, her words bring more anguish and emotion. “IF you were here my brother would not have died.” And so to, when Jesus weeps, it is because we truly enter not just into the reality and sadness of death, but the circle of kinship that is broken by death and wounds us in grief.

    But true to John’s Gospel, Jesus is always in control, always able to reach farther than what others cannot see. His presence makes the difference. Those of us who have experienced true anguish and brokenness might also have experienced true healing presence. The wholeness that comes from the anguish of knowing our limits and imperfections and experiencing the completeness of God’s love despite that.

    In any case, very much to think about and put myself at peace as this day comes to a rest.

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