If you’re a Catholic single, you’re probably familiar with the life of Saint Martha, the friend of Jesus who is mentioned throughout the Gospels. Remember the story of Jesus praising Mary’s attentiveness and rebuking Martha’s task-minded behavior? Because of this story, we often think of Martha in a somewhat negative light.
But Martha’s story holds many practical lessons for us in our daily lives, especially as single Catholics. If you’re a single man or woman desiring to grow in holiness during your Catholic dating journey, here are some things you can learn from her life and witness.
We remember Martha as a friend of Christ
We know very few details about Martha’s life, but the Gospels describe her as friend of Jesus. “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,” John 11:5 tells us. Anyone specifically mentioned in Scripture as being loved by Jesus is probably someone we would do well to imitate ourselves as Catholic men and women today, regardless of our relationship status.
The Gospel of Luke tells the story that probably first comes to mind for many of us when we think of Martha. Luke tells us how Jesus came to a village in which Martha welcomed Jesus. Once Jesus was in their home, Martha’s sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him.
But Mary busied herself with serving tasks in order to be hospitable. She is understandably frustrated that her sister is not helping her, but Jesus gently rebukes Martha and tells her that Mary has “chosen the better part.”
Martha grew in her faith and friendship with the Lord
The story of Jesus in Martha and Mary’s home is the main place Martha is mentioned Scripture. The Gospel of John tells of the interactions between Jesus and Martha after the death of her brother Lazarus.
Lazarus was ill, so his sisters Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus about the matter. But Jesus didn’t come to heal Lazarus immediately. Lazarus died and his sisters buried him. When Martha heard Christ coming, she went out to meet him.
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” she told him. “But even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus told her that her brother will rise, and Martha replied that she knew Lazarus would rise in the resurrection on the last day. But that wasn’t what the Lord was speaking of.
“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,” Christ told Martha. She replied and said that Christ was the Son of God who was coming into the world.
No longer preoccupied with what needed to be done, Martha believed that Christ and a relationship with him was more important than anything else.
What Catholic singles can learn from Martha’s life
We can look at these accounts of Martha’s interactions with Jesus and apply them to our own lives as single Catholic men and women.
Scripture describes her as “burdened with much serving” (Luke 10:40). Many of us can probably identify with this feeling of being burdened, especially when we struggle to hold onto hope during our Catholic dating journey. But when we realize that we are bogged down with worldly tasks like Martha, it’s important for us to acknowledge that there are important spiritual matters that need our attention even more.
In our dating lives, it’s not unusual for Catholic singles to feel burdened with the work involved in searching for spouse. This hard work shouldn’t be scorned or considered insignificant. After all, Martha is the patron saint of cooks, housewives, servants, and waiters. This patronage shows that her diligence and work ethic were important. But we need to remember to tend to our spiritual lives with even more attentiveness and care than we put into our more worldly tasks.
Whenever we start to feel burdened or discouraged at the lack of results our work seems to yield, we need listen to Jesus’ words to Martha and turn our focus on our relationship with him. As Catholic singles, we should always strive to imitate the great faith of Martha when she said that she believed Jesus could do anything.
A prayer to help you trust God’s timing
If you need Heavenly encouragement in your online Catholic dating journey, turn to Martha. Here’s a great prayer to say:
O blessed St. Martha, your faith led Jesus to proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life”; and faith let you see beyond his humanity when you cried out, “Lord I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
With firm hope you said, I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him, and Jesus called your brother Lazarus back from the dead. With pure love for Jesus you welcomed him into your home.
Friend and servant of our Savior, I too am “troubled about many things.” (Pause for silent prayer.) Pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love, and that Jesus, who sat at your table, will hear me and grant me a place at the banquet of eternal life. Amen.