29 July 2008


Memorial of St. Martha
Jn 11:19-27

Two words always go together : if and but. If I lose this game, I would treat you to a movie, but I will win. If you do not study well, you would fail the course, but you study well. If they refuse to obey, they would be arrested, but they will obey. If it rains, we would not go, but it will not. For every if, there is a but.
Martha, too, had her ifs and buts, two of which the gospels tell us. One was in the kitchen, another by the tomb. In the kitchen, while Jesus was their guest, Martha complained that she had to do all the work while Mary, her sister, sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him. If Mary helped her, perhaps Martha thought, Jesus could be served a warm meal faster. The Lord, however, taught her that it was not for a quick and warm meal that He visited them, but for their presence. Martha’s if recognized the but about Jesus’ coming to them. In the gospel today, by her brother’s tomb, Martha’s if is more explicit and dramatic: “Lord, “ she said, “if You had been here my brother would never have died.” However, she must have learned her lesson, she herself supplied the but: “but I know that, even now,” she continues, “whatever You ask of God, He will grant You.” Martha complained about the Lord’s absence but she also professed faith in Him.
Many times in life, we also have our ifs and buts. Unfortunately, many of us get stuck with their ifs and spent the rest of their lives in regret. But for those who move on to their buts, are blest. The “if people” are losers, while the “but people” are winners. Just as it was with Martha, the choice is always ours. We can stay with our ifs and wallow in the misery that regretting, murmuring, and complaining naturally give or we can move on with our buts and draw strength from hoping, praying, and struggling.
Sometimes, too much depends on our choice. If Martha confined herself with her regret and complain over the absence of Jesus when Lazarus, her brother, died, she would have not recognized the presence of Jesus now. If all that Martha had was her litany of ifs, Lazarus would not have been raised by Jesus. Clearly, we must remember that the choice we make to live with our ifs and buts affect not only our lives but the lives of those around us, starting with people we love.
While it is very important to realize our ifs in life, it is equally important to know what are buts are. Our ifs situates us, giving context to our buts, but our buts spurs us on, providing reason to our faith, hope, and love.
Martha is a saint not because of her if, but because of her but. That is always true with any saint. If they had surrendered and given up on themselves because of their weaknesses – great and small – they would have never become saints, but they did not. If God had given up on them and refused them His mercy, they would have never become saints, but God did not. You and I can also become saints if only we answer God’s call to holiness. But do we?
For every if there is a but. All have their ifs in life, but some have no buts. Tell me your ifs, and I’ll tell you my buts.


At 6:32 AM , Blogger Lonely Paul said...



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