Yet later tradition honors Martha. She is patroness of those who serve - cooks, housekeepers, waiters and waitresses - and sometimes, Christian service. There is a place for those who serve and wait upon others, a place for those who prepare the table. They, too, are necessary, or meals would never get prepared or served. Someone has to feed the hungry. Jesus says man does not live by bread alone, not man does not live by bread at all.
The story originated in France that Martha, Mary Magdalene and Lazarus arrived there a few years after Jesus death and settled in Avignon. When the people of Tarascon, in Provencal, were being terrorized by a dragon, they called upon St. Martha, who went to the dragon, tamed it and brought it back on a leash. The people, of course, immediately converted to Christianity.
Today, that image of Marth the dragon has been perverted in some cultures to become Martha the Dominator, a kind of powerful "dark side" icon popular in voodoo and some areas of Latin America, often depicted as a wild-eyed woman with streaming hair handling snakes.
"Yes, Lord,” she replied. “I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God; He who is to come into the World.” (John 11:27)It is Martha's active faith - as strong as Mary's spiritual bond with Jesus, that makes her worth emulating. Her belief in him is powerful enough to know that whatever he commands will happen - that, if he wills it, the dead will be raised. Belief is power. This has to be the basis for the legends that grew around her later.
So this weekend, when you hear the story of Jesus scolding Martha for asking her sister to help with dinner, remember that there is more to Martha than this story. St. John depicts her here as the antithesis of the contemplation of Christ. Yet later, he will depict her as one of the first and most faithful witnesses to his identity, unafraid to ask him for what she wants. For those of us who live in the world. Martha is worth emulating. Our faith, like hers, should be unshakable, based in common sense and service. Like Martha, we need to believe that Jesus can bring new life into even the most dire of circumstances.