Remembering Martha of Bethany

Today is the feast day of Martha of Bethany. You remember her, the sister of Mary and Lazarus, who spends the day preparing the meal for the arrival of Jesus and doesn’t get to enjoy his company in the way that her sister does (Luke 10:38-41). The one who makes a profession of faith at the grave of her brother—“I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24).

When I heard these stories growing up, I never particularly liked Martha. She was so practical and dutiful, and she pretty much complains at Jesus about all the work she has done without the help of her sister.

But reading these stories today, I can’t help but think of the authors in this collection with a smile. Women who, like Martha of Bethany, go about their everyday lives with simplicity and humility, acutely aware that these experiences are “soaked in the Divine.” Women who encounter Jesus as much in the hungry stranger on the street as they do in the intimacy of the Eucharist in Mass. One whose relationship with a liberating Jesus helped her overcome an eating disorder in her early teens. And another who transubstantiated banana slices for her grandma long before she knew who Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza is or why her work is important to the renewal of our shared tradition.

These are just threads of three of the twenty-nine stories I feel blessed to come to know over the past year of working on this project. Stories that are challenging and compelling and full of complexity, that Kate and I can’t wait to share with the world come Summer 2009.




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