We celebrate St Martha today. She is the sister of Mary and of Lazarus, who, in the Gospel today, is dead. When Martha heard Jesus was coming, she went and met him. Martha seemed to blame Jesus for the death of her brother because she said Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. However, what she said next shows her faith in Jesus: But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him. We can only guess what Martha had in mind when she said this. Did she think Jesus will raise Lazarus from the dead? Probably, because Jesus answered her, Your brother will rise again. Martha thought Jesus meant Lazarus will rise again in the resurrection. But Jesus made it clear I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even through they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Jesus planned to raise Lazarus that day which is why he revealed himself to Martha. With this revelation, we see that the Resurrection is not only an event, but a Person, because Jesus says I am the resurrection. Jesus does not only raise people from the dead, he is the One who rises from the dead, and the reason people rise from the dead is because Jesus rose from the dead. Our faith is rooted in the Person of Jesus Christ and not in some ritual or human teaching.
With the pandemic, we have been deprived of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, of fellowship with others. Many are not able to go to church. Yet, important as these are, the absence of these is no reason for us to lose faith. As long as we believe Jesus, we have new life. In the First Reading, Jeremiah shows us how it is to have joy, despite all his sufferings: your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. Jeremiah said he ate the words of God and these became a joy and delight of his heart. Catholics believe Jesus is the Word of God and God is revealed in the Teaching of the Apostles in Sacred Tradition and Scripture.
What are we to do when we hunger and thirst for the sacraments and of the physical signs of God? We feast on God’s Word: the Teaching of the Apostles and Scripture. When Jesus reveals himself through these, we will have joy. While the Eucharist is the true Presence of Christ, we are also fed from Scripture. And when we feast on the written Word of God that is faithful to the Teaching of the Apostles, we will also find Jesus who is the Resurrection. When we do, we can say what the Responsorial Psalm says: God is my refuge on the day of distress. O my strength, I will watch for you; for you, O God are my fortress. My God in his steadfast love will meet me… O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love.
The sacraments are important. But when we are deprived of the sacraments, especially of the Eucharist, God will not abandon us. He is still present in his written Word and he continues to speak to us through it. We cannot stay in a corner and mourn for the loss of the sacraments. While God works through the sacraments, God can also move outside of the sacraments. We need to go beyond the physical signs and search for Jesus. We need to learn to search God in Scripture faithful to the Teaching of the Apostles. Jesus said seek and you shall find. When we seek him, we will find him.
Lord, I thirst for your sacraments. I thirst for your true Body and Blood. I thirst for the opportunity to visit you in your church. Yet Lord, I know you are still present in your Word: the Teaching of the Apostles and in Scripture. Teach me to love them and to devour them so I may find joy. St Martha, Jesus revealed to you he is the Resurrection and the Life, and he showed you what he meant. Help me to see the Resurrection and the Life through God’s Word revealed in the Teaching of the Apostles and in Scripture.