Springtime in our village of Bethany is always a season of joy and work. The barley is ready to be harvested as well as our olive trees; figs also, are in abundance. My younger sister, Mary and my brother Lazarus live with me at my home. Our brother recently met a new Rabbi at temple service in Jerusalem, named Jesus, and they have become fast friends. He comes to our home often, and teaches us about the Kingdom of G-d. The miracles that he has done in our village have drawn many people to him. I don’t always understand everything that he teaches, he is so wise, but I know that he speaks only truth.
I remember our distress when Lazarus was struck with an illness. We sent word for the Master to come and pray for him, but he did not come. My heart was so grieved. Poor Mary mourned and wailed when our brother died. Four days after Lazarus’ death one of our neighbors came to say they saw Jesus coming down the road. I immediately looked out, and I saw his silhouette against the noonday sun. He carried his staff in his hand as the dust billowed behind him. I could not contain myself. I ran to meet him.
“Oh, Master, if you had been here my brother would not have died, but I know even now, what you ask of G-d, G-d will give it.”
Jesus smiled and patted my shoulder, “Martha, your brother shall rise again.” He exuded peace, joy and love. Everywhere he went people loved to be in his presence.
“Jesus, I know that he will be raised in the resurrection at the last day. I know that I will see my brother again.” His response quickened my heart and I knew that he was sharing a revelation with me.
“I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, though he be dead, yet shall he live.”
I confessed to him that I knew he was the Christ, the Savior of the World. I was so excited; I had to rush to tell Mary. She had to know that he was the long awaited Messiah.
I ran as fast as my sandaled feet could carry me, the dust filled my nostrils and mouth; I didn’t care. When I reached the house, I went to Mary secretly and took her aside. I am convinced that she thought I was crazy, my hair tumbling down and sticking to my sweaty, dusty face, my breath coming in snatches. “Mary, the Master is here and he has asked that you come. He is our Messiah.”
The mourners watched as Mary ran from the house; they thought that she was going to the gravesite to mourn. They all followed her, as did I. When Mary came to Jesus she fell at his feet and wept. The mourners all wept with her. This so grieved Jesus that he asked where Lazarus was buried. He asked that the stone be rolled away from the cave. He called to Lazarus to “come forth”. And bless G-d, Lazarus did! There was much excitement that day!
It is now six days before Passover and Jesus is coming for dinner. Mary has been helpful this week in removing all the chametz (leavening) from the house. Even my brother Lazarus has gathered with the other men to bake the special version of handmade matzo. We all look forward to Passover.
When Jesus arrives, Lazarus greets him with a kiss and washes his feet. Jesus and his disciples set at the table to eat some pickled eggs and herbs. I watch Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. She never bothers to help me prepare and serve. I feel anger crawl over me like leprosy over a leper. How can she sit there like that? I ask Jesus to make Mary help me. His answer pricks my heart.
“Martha, you are concerned about many things. You fret over working and serving but Mary has chosen to listen to my teaching and this will remain with her.” He is right.
I smell the sweetness of spikenard and perfumed ointment wafting across the room. A hush has settled like a lingering cloud and all eyes are upon my sister. She is anointing the feet of Jesus and I realize that he is the fragrance of love. She bends to wipe his feet with her long, lush hair. Her love for him causes me to weep.
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