SS. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus


The God who conversed with men: * O come, let us adore.

Hymn, Redditum luci, Dominus vocante

Sing of the first fruits of the Resurrection,
How from the dark tomb, into light returning,
Lazarus came forth at the word of Jesus;
Sing! Death is vanquished!

Say with those sisters, very faith expressing,
Lord, hadst thou been here, this had not befallen!
Like them we know, Lord, that no ill can harm us
When thou art with us.

Be with us, Jesu, thou our life eternal!
Guest most desired, come and dwell within us;
Thou who didst shed tears at thy friend’s departure
From us depart not! Amen.

From a Sermon by St Augustine, Bishop & Doctor of the Church

Martha and Mary were sisters, related not only by blood but also by religious aspirations. They stayed close to our Lord and both served him harmoniously when he was among them.  Martha welcomed him as travellers are welcomed.  But in her case, the maidservant received her Lord, the invalid her Saviour, the creature her Creator, to serve him bodily food while she was to be fed by the Spirit.  For the Lord willed to put on the form of a slave, and under this form to be fed by his own servants, out of condescension and not out of need. For this was indeed condescension, to present himself to be fed; since he was in the flesh he would indeed be hungry and thirsty.
Thus was the Lord received as a guest who “came unto his own and his own received him not; but as many as received him, he gave them the power to become sons of God”, adopting those who were servants and making them his brothers, ransoming the captives and making them his co-heirs.  No one of you should say: “Blessed are they who have deserved to receive Christ into their homes!”  Do not grieve or complain that you were born in a time when you can no longer see God in the flesh.  He did not in fact take this privilege from you. As he says: “Whatever you have done to the least of my brothers, you did it to me.”
But thou, O Martha, if I may say so, art blessed for thy good service, and for thy labours thou seekest the reward of peace.  Now thou art much occupied in nourishing the body, admittedly a holy one.  But when thou comest to the heavenly homeland wilt thou find a traveller to welcome, someone hungry to feed, or thirsty to whom thou mayest give drink, someone ill whom thou couldst visit, or quarrelling whom thou couldst reconcile, or dead whom thou couldst bury?  No, there will be none of these tasks there.  What thou wilt find there is that which Mary chose.  There we shall not feed others, we ourselves shall be fed.  Thus what Mary chose in this life will be realised there in all its fullness; she was gathering fragments from that rich banquet, the Word of God.  Wilt thou know what we are to have there?  The Lord himself tells us when he says of his servants, “Amen, I say to you, he will make them recline and passing he will serve them.”

Responsory.  If any one love me, || he will keep my word, and * My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and † We will make our abode with him.  V. Wisdom protecteth them that seek after her, and he that loveth her, loveth life. * My Father … Glory be … † We will …

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