This gospel is contains my 2nd and 3rd favorite lines in all of scripture.
v27: “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe…”
Martha, who — the last time we saw her was caught up in housework (#MarthaMarthaMartha) — makes this bold declaration and confession of faith — about who Jesus is. To her. And also to me.
And she starts with what seems to be a phrase with some extra words: “I have come to believe…”
Why doesn’t she just say what we say every week?
I believe in one God, the Father, the almighty…
Cut to the chase, Martha.
Find an editor.
[n.b. — Peter will use the same curious phrase later in the gospels.]
The names for Jesus are important. Believing is important. But I think the primary word in that sentence is not that she believes. Or even what she believes. It is first and foremost — that she has come.
The derivation and etymology of the verb to come refers to “movement with the purpose of reaching.”
That suggests motion. A journey. A pilgrimage. Even a short one. Maybe just advancing your spiritual self 1 spot. But there is definitive motion. God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are always in motion. And they call me to join them.
To come with a purpose. With an openness. A sense of that there is more than what I see or experience. A humility and smallness in the understanding that I am never done getting to know God through the person of Jesus. That I will never not be called to encounter Him more deeply and intimate than where I am standing right now.
I have to come before I can do anything else. Including believe.
And though I may be afraid of who or what I have become. Whether God can smell my stinky sin. Or can see that I am bound by the things of this world — I must come. I may be surprised at what God reveals through whatever Jesus says to me — it is about a unity of mind and heart — a recognition that there is more. That I am more. That Jesus is more.
So I cannot stand still. I might not know what I will find when I take that next step. What He will ask me. Where it will take me.
We say and sing all the time about *drawing near* to Jesus. In prayer. In sacraments. In the Eucharist. Don’t forget about in person. Especially in the poor.
I desire to draw near.
I have to move.
My purpose is to believe.
And so I must reach Jesus.
Martha has had a journey to arrive at her belief. It doesn’t happen overnight. She has encountered and re-encountered Jesus many times and under many different circumstances. Sometimes in the foreground and sometimes in the background. Sometimes in the kitchen, and sometimes on the road. Once at the cross — and twice — at the tomb.
But once we have an authentic encounter with the person of Jesus — we cannot stop. We will never have enough. We will always desire to be closer. And my thirsting for God is nothing compared to His thirsting for me.
And even here — Jesus always gives us back to our community first. Mary and Martha are actually the ones who join the Woman at the Well and the Man Born Blind — for without their brother — presuming he was their only male relative — they would have been sold into slavery.
And Lazarus is going to have quite a time of things too. What will he say to his friends when he shows up at the coffee shop on Monday morning? Think about it. Lazarus is immediately placed into a role of evangelist. He cannot NOT tell his story!
We have a wild God — whose plan for us is way bigger than that for ourselves.
This weekend as I recite the Creed — may I dare to whisper in my heart:
I have come to believe in one God; the Father, the almighty…
The pilgrimage doesn’t end. There is always more I can know.
I have to move.
Good job, Martha.