Friday, August 12, 2022

Homilies

Memorial of Saints Lazarus, Martha, and Mary of Bethany
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M.
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Memorial of Saints Lazarus, Martha, and Mary of Bethany

Homily for the Memorial of Saints Lazarus, Martha, and Mary of Bethany

Two years ago, our holy Father Pope Francis changed the memorial that we celebrate today from a memorial in honor of St. Martha to a memorial honoring the brother and two sisters who welcomed Jesus into their home in Bethany – Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Pope Francis did this at the same time that he elevated the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast day. Part of the reason for this change was to correct the mistaken notion that Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene were one and the same person. In choosing the Gospel passage for this particular memorial, the curia office of divine worship offered the two passages which speak of the family in Bethany. We heard one of those just a few weeks ago; namely, the story from the Gospel of Luke in which Martha asks Jesus to get Mary to help her in the kitchen. Today we read from the Gospel of St. John of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. In the course of this episode, we read one of the most important statements that Jesus made during his lifetime: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dives, will live…”

In opening their home to Jesus, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus had come to believe in Jesus as the One sent by God with the power to heal and forgive. At the time of Lazarus’s death, both Martha and Mary open their hearts in total trust in him. They both affirm their belief that Jesus is the One promised by God. In the first instance, by opening their home, they welcome the Word of God made flesh in the person of Jesus. In the second instance, they open their hearts in faith to that same Word of God. In response to their faith, Jesus reveals the power he has been given to raise the dead to life again.

As we keep this memorial, we too open our home and our hearts to the Lord Jesus. The Gospel urges us to accept in faith the Lord Jesus as the source of our life. In a few moments, we will welcome Jesus in the bread and wine which have become his body and blood. As we leave this place this morning, let us act throughout the rest of the day as people who believe and have put their faith in Jesus.

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