“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”

These are the words of Martha, the sister of Lazarus, who had died before Jesus arrived. Martha was complaining that had Jesus gotten there sooner her brother wouldn’t have died. Jesus then goes on to reassure her that Lazarus will rise, which she takes to mean in resurrection.  Jesus explains to her that He is the resurrection and the life.

“Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

Then He asks her if she believes this. She says,

“Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

On her feast day, Catholics celebrate Martha’s acceptance of Jesus as savior.

I started not to write about this part of scripture because it seemed very straightforward. At first it seems to be about Martha’s faith in Jesus. But then I saw a posting from Father James Martin, SJ, a Jesuit priest whom I follow on Facebook. He offers a unique twist on the story.

Titled, “God wants our honesty,” I think you will find refreshing added meaning to this reading.

God wants more than just prayers of petition or prayers of thanksgiving. He wants us to leave everything on the line, so to speak. Did you know there is such a thing as prayers of lamentation? When you get angry, because things aren’t fair or injustice is so profound, or because everything in your life is falling apart, He is OK with it if you express your anger in a prayer. Prayer is a way of engaging God in your life, and he wants you to be honest about your feelings. They are balanced by your prayers of praise and thanksgiving when things are going along just fine.

Reading scripture can be a source of such inspiration when we discover nuances we didn’t expect: Like Jesus engaging with Martha over the death of her brother, not correcting her or admonishing her for her complaint, but reassuring her and reminding her of her faith.

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