Martha, faith and feelings

arun simon
3 min readMar 21, 2024

My bestie’s constant complaint is that I don’t catch the emotions always. Its is almost my novice master reminding me so many years ago that, “arun, pray less with the head, and more with the heart”. Yes, I am more a head man. I do feel things, but feelings are not the oceans where i love swimming. Even the Jesuit formation (where feelings are so important in Jesuit style of prayers) didn’t give me that ease, though it transformed me. There is one character in the Bible who combined faith and feelings, which is Martha. Does Bible appreciates praying with feelings? The quote below may be one of he most beautiful expressions of the same.

Martha is part of the sibling gang of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. There are two major appearances of Martha in the gospels. First one is the scene where Jesus visits Martha and Mary (Luke 10, 38–42). Lazarus is missing in this scene and this scene is immediately following one of the most important parables (The Good Samaritan). Martha was distracted by her works, but Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha complained to Jesus saying that Mary is not helping her with the works. Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better part, which at that moment is, listening to Jesus. Two points to be noted here are,

  1. Martha’s freedom to talk to Jesus, the great teacher is to be appreciated. She expressed her feelings. Jesus was a good friend to her.
  2. It’s not right to conclude that Jesus gave importance only to contemplation and not to actions/ services. Jesus was a contemplative who prayed a lot, but he was equally an active person. There is time for everything. Active good Samaritan is appreciated in the passage preceding this scene.

We come to the second passage where Lazarus is present, though he never utters a word too. Here, he is brought back to life (Jn 11). We come to our principle character of focus, Martha.

  1. Initial message is sent to Jesus by the sisters saying that the one whom Jesus loves is sick. Was it a strategic or diplomatic way of writing that Jesus is persuaded to come? I don’t know. They could have said that their brother is sick.
  2. After much delay, Jesus arrives at Bethany, and Lazarus was already in the grave for 4 days. When Jesus comes, Martha (not Mary) goes to meet Jesus. Then she makes one of he most beautiful faith statements. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” Two sentiments can be captured there, she is upset with Jesus, and she has faith in Jesus. Faith and being angry, Faith and being upset, Faith and irritation/doubt can go well like Faith and peace/love/mercy.
  3. Martha continues to profess wonderful faith statements on the identity of Jesus and on the resurrection. “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” & “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
  4. Martha, the tired and sad girl, is also bringing her sister to meet Jesus. When Jesus finally asks the stone to be removed, she says of the stench that could be produced as the death happened 4 days ago. Despite being a wonderful model of faith, she still has much to learn. Faith is constant journey.

I conclude with a screenshot from the book of James Martin SJ regarding Lazarus, and he summarizes Martha. When I sent this quote to my bestie, she said this is her. James Martin puts Martha as each one of us, or a possibility for each of us.



arun simon

A Jesuit with all the crazyness… Loves Jesus…Loves church, but loves to challenge too… Loves post modern philosophy & Gilles Deleuze.. Loves deep conversations…