Leviticus 23:11, 4-11, 15, 16, 27, 34b-37 “…’These, therefore, are the festivals of the LORD on which you shall proclaim a sacred assembly, and offer as a oblation to the LORD burnt offerings and cereal offerings, sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day.’…”
Psalm 81: 3-6, 10-11ab “…I, the LORD, am your God who led you forth from the land of Egypt’….”
Matthew 9: 1-8 “…’She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”’...”
Memorial of Saint Martha – Both of the Gospel choices coincide with today’s Memorial feast. Martha was one of three from a family who were apparently friends to Jesus. We all know the story of Martha whose sister Mary did not help her while she was preparing the meal. Jesus tells her that Mary has chosen the better part and that that time will not be taken from her. So familiar, people refer to themselves as Martha’s or Mary’s, that of keeping busy and working, or preferring to sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer. But as is pointed out in The Saint of the Day web site, Martha is also remembered for how she responded to Jesus when her brother Lazarus had died and before Jesus brings him back to life. Upon Jesus’ arrival, Martha asks Him why he let her brother die. Jesus asks her if she believes He is who He says He is, and she says, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”
In our first reading we are in Leviticus and listening while the LORD speaks to Moses requesting of his Covenant people that they celebrate God on specific days and seasons and in a particular way. These feasts are referred to as the 3 Pilgrim Feasts, consisting of 1.) Passover –Unleavened Bread; 2.) Weeks – Pentecost; and 3.) Feast of Booths which is the end of the harvest. At first blush, the words run together, the listing seems so precise and a little long. But, the Collegeville Bible Commentary notes the significance of this request and the notation is profound. “In ancient stories of other peoples, the sacred assembly took place among the gods. With Israel the Holy One initiates the gathering of the people…The order in which the list appears gives the reader a mosaic of the life of holiness in the world - the Holy One living in the midst of the people.” (Collegeville Bible Commentary-Old Testament, pg. 138)
The Feasts were spread throughout the year in the life of God’s people. They gathered to remember the significant events of their past lives with the Passover Feast and also to remember God who continued to work in their current lives with Pentecost, the first fruits of the harvest through to the end of their harvests. The people called by God collectively gathered to rejoice, offer sacrifice and Praise God. For them, God was Living and was kept alive through the telling and retelling of the story. I couldn’t help but compare that world with the world of today; where there are people in the USA who want to remove God from everything that we might do together. They’ve removed prayer in our schools, and from the ceremonies done before our sporting events. The language of the Ten Commandments is being removed from our government buildings, here and there. Let us take a lesson from the people of Moses’ time and return to being a people who gathers to remember all the ways God has worked in our lives, for all good things come from God. We are a people who have much to be thankful for, and there is only One is responsible and worthy of Praise. Let us ask God for the Wisdom to face our world today. In His name we pray.
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