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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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St. Martha

Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99:5-7, 9
John 11:19-27
or Luke 10:38-42

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po' folks

"Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed Him to her home." —Luke 10:38

Martha should be the patroness of those dedicated to serving the poor. We need Martha and all the help we can get because serving the poor is much more difficult than it seems. When we help the poor, we may be either helping them stay trapped in the cycle of poverty or helping them go free. Sometimes it's difficult to know the difference.

We can learn three things from Martha's relationship with Jesus to help us truly serve the poor. First, Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the better part; that is, sitting at Jesus' feet and listening to His words (Lk 10:39). If we rely only on our own understanding (see Prv 3:5) or merely adapt typical approaches to serving the poor, we may unknowingly promote poverty rather than fight it. We must face the fact that we often don't know what we are doing in serving the poor. We must seek God's will. Second, Martha's hands-on, personal, home-based hospitality is the Biblical model for serving the poor. This should be preferred to the institutional model. Third, authentic service to the poor means meeting a person's greatest need: the need to personally know, love, and serve Jesus.

We must love the poor enough to proclaim to them Jesus' words to Martha: "I am the Resurrection and the Life: whoever believes in Me, though he should die, will come to life; and whoever is alive and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" (Jn 11:25-26)

Prayer:  Father, use me to feed and free many materially poor people.

Promise:  "Your brother will rise again." —Jn 11:23

Praise:  St. Martha told Jesus, "Yes, I do believe" (see Jn 11:27). She "welcomed [Jesus] to her home" (Lk 10:38).

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, January 5, 2009

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