Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus were evidently close friends of Jesus. He came to their home simply as a welcomed guest, rather than as one celebrating the conversion of a sinner like Zacchaeus or one unceremoniously received by a suspicious Pharisee. The sisters feel free to call on Jesus at their brother’s death, even though a return to Judea at that time seems almost certain death.
No doubt Martha was an active sort of person. On one occasion (see Luke 10:38-42) she prepares the meal for Jesus and possibly his fellow guests and forthrightly states the obvious: All hands should pitch in to help with the dinner.
Yet, as biblical scholar Father John McKenzie points out, she need not be rated as an “unrecollected activist.” The evangelist is emphasizing what our Lord said on several occasions about the primacy of the spiritual: “...[D]o not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear…. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:25b, 33a); “One does not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4b); “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6a).
Martha’s great glory is her simple and strong statement of faith in Jesus after her brother’s death. “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world’” (John 11:25-27).
Scripture commentators point out that in writing his account of the raising of Lazarus, St. John intends that we should see Martha’s words to Mary before tLazarus was raised as a summons that every Christian must obey. In her saying “The teacher is here and is asking for you,” Jesus is calling every one of us to resurrection—now in baptismal faith, forever in sharing his victory over death. And all of us, as well as these three friends, are in our own unique way called to special friendship with him.
“Encouraged by so great a cloud of witnesses, we may run as victors in the race before us and win with them the imperishable crown of glory through Christ our Lord" (Roman Missal, Preface of Saints I).
Patron Saint of:
Also today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate Pope S. Felix III, Martyr not to be confused with the anti-pope of the same name, although he is identified with him because of his name.
The 48th Pope
Saint Felix III
Pope St. Felix III (483-492)
This pope's notoriety surrounded a document known as the Henoticon. The work was the initiative of the emperor Zeno and the patriarch of Constantinople, Acacius as an attempt to resolve the contention between orthodoxy and the heresy of Monophysitism which taught that Jesus Christ did not have both a divine nature and a human nature, but only a divine nature. The Henoticon was cleverly constructed to try to placate all the parties involved with the intent of offending no one. It affirmed Catholic orthodoxy and yet avoided the particular catchwords and phrases surrounding the Monophysite heresy. Pope Felix was outraged over the replacement of the orthodox bishop of Alexandria with a Monophysite bishop and the support given to this heretical bishop by Acacius. The pope summoned Acacius to Rome to acquit himself before the pope regarding this matter. In an example of the adage: "If you want something done right, do it yourself," the representatives of the pope botched their mission so badly that Acacius and many in Constantinople actually thought that the Pope was in favor of the patriarch's viewpoint. The pope responded by excommunicating his legates and Acacius himself. With the fall of the Western empire, Constantinople as the see of the Eastern Church was "feeling its oats" and the excommunication resulted in a decades long schism between the East and West. With the death of Acacius and the restoration of an orthodox bishop in Alexandria, the termination of the schism was expected. The pope, however, would not entertain any progress toward establishing harmony once again between East and West until the name of the late patriarch was expunged from mention in the liturgy.
This intractable pastoral modus operandi was evident also in his dealings with the priests and laity of North Africa who acquiesced to the act of re-baptism required by the conquering Arian barbarians. Reconciliation was accomplished for some after the performance of rigorous penance and for the priests and deacons who gave in to the pressures of the Arians, reconciliation was possible only at the point of one's death.
Pope Felix was buried within Saint Peter's Basilica.
Also today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate SS. Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrice, Martyrs.
SS. Simplicius, Faustinus and Beatrix were siblings who died in Rome during the persecutions under Emperor Diocletian in the fourth century. In 303, upon learning they were Christians, the emperor ordered the torture of Simplicius and Faustinus. They were beaten with clubs and finally beheaded. Their bodies were thrown into the Tiber River, but their sister, Beatrice, had the bodies drawn out of the water and buried.
For seven months after her brothers’ martyrdom, Beatrice lived with a pious woman named Lucina. Together they secretly helped persecuted Christians.
Finally, Beatrice was discovered and arrested. Her accuser was her neighbour Lucretius who wished to obtain possession of her property. When ordered before the judge, she announced that she would never sacrifice to demons because she was a Christian. She received a martyr’s crown when she was strangled in prison.
Beatrice’s friend, Lucina, buried her with her brothers in the cemetery Ursum Pileatum on the road to Porto near Rome.
Divine punishment soon overtook Beatrice’s accuser, Lucretius, who at a feast mocked the martyrs. A small child cried out, “Thou hast committed murder and hast taken unjust possession of land. Thou art a slave of the devil.” The angry citizens grabbed and tortured Lucretius for three hours, eventually throwing him into a bottomless pit. The terror of those present was so great that they became Christians.
St. Simplicius is represented in art with a pennant, on the shield of which are three lilies, called the crest of Simplicius; the lilies are a symbol of purity of heart. St. Beatrice is portrayed with a cord in her hand, because she was strangled.
Be a Witness:
“People today put more trust in witnesses than in teachers, in experience than in teaching, and in life and action than in theories. The witness of a Christian life is the first and irreplaceable form of mission: Christ, whose mission we continue, is the ‘witness' par excellence and the model of all Christian witness.” -John Paul II
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
All that you feel within you at the sight of so many holy people around you, all of them devoted to loving and serving the Lord, is a sign that your soul is itself ardently seeking its Creator.
My Heart is mercy itself
(Jesus speaks to St. Faustina)
"My daughter, know that My Heart is mercy itself. From this sea of mercy, graces flow out upon the whole world. No soul that has approached Me has ever gone away unconsoled. All misery gets buried in the depths of My mercy, and every saving and sanctifying grace flows from this fountain. My daughter, I desire that your heart be an abiding place of My mercy. I desire that this mercy flow out upon the whole world through your heart. Let no one who approaches you go away without that trust in My mercy which I so ardently desire for souls". - (Diary No. 1777)