Daily Reflection
July 29th, 2000
Mary Guido, r.c.
Christian Spirituality Program

Saint Martha - Memorial 
1 John 4:7-16
Psalm 34: 2-11
John 11:19-27 or Luke 10:38-42

“Yes, Lord,” she replied.  “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God:
 he who is to come into the world.”

A scrap of magazine advertisement hangs on my bedroom mirror.  It’s left over from a collage I made while I was in the novitiate eight years ago.  “Do you believe?” it asks in large bold print.  I forget the original point of the ad, but when I saw the question, I ripped it out with gusto and placed it at the top of the collage. 

Just a few months before this, when I had hit an emotional bottom, Jesus had asked me that very same question.

“Do you believe?”

The rest of the collage is long gone, but I’ve saved that particular magazine scrap.  It has traveled with me as I completed novitiate and temporary profession in my congregation.  It has moved with me as I’ve lived in various local communities.  It looks at me in the morning as I’ve held various responsibilities, prayed for my own transformation and for the needs of the world, listened to people who want to talk about God’s presence/absence in their lives, rubbed shoulders and idiosyncrasies with my sisters in community. 

It asks me the same few words as I cry, “Where were you?” to Jesus, whose presence I could not sense in the anguish of life:  my cousin’s death at 40 from cancer, a vibrant member of my congregation who slips into dementia at a relatively young age, a retreatant who was sexually abused by relatives as a child, the teenagers who killed their classmates at Columbine, the children of Iraq who die because of U.S. sanctions….

“Do you believe?” Jesus asks Martha in John’s Gospel, the first option for her memorial today.  Martha, who suffers as much pain and grief that her beloved friend Jesus did not come right away, as she does over the death of her brother Lazarus, makes an extraordinary profession of faith.  In the midst of her emotional turmoil, Martha nevertheless asserts her belief in Jesus’ true identity.  Her statement echoes Peter’s own in Matthew 16:13-19.  Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Resurrection and the Life, against whom the forces of death and hate and pain cannot prevail.

Several sisters in my congregation were army nurses in their youth during World War II, present in France and England in the days surrounding the D-Day invasion.  One sister shares her story of feeling overwhelmed by the gruesome sights and sounds and smells of young soldiers blown to bits.  In the midst the horror, she stood outside and shouted to the night sky as loudly as she could: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, Our Lord…”  This sister of mine in religious life reached into the depths of her heart and soul and proclaimed for herself Martha’s profession of faith when all else around her could not make any sense.

Through Martha’s story in John’s Gospel, Jesus urges each one of us to do likewise.  We might not experience as dramatic an answer as Martha did at the tomb of her brother, but we can cling to Jesus as our Resurrection and Life when all else around us cannot make any sense.  The choice is ours.

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