Oil Dedicated to St Martha
St Martha the miraculous healing oil is dedicated to the Biblical figure of Martha, sister of Mary mentioned in the Gospels. “Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus.” This unique statement in John’s gospel tells us of the special relationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother.
Apparently, Jesus was a frequent guest at Martha’s home in Bethany, a small village two miles from Jerusalem. Many of us find it easy to identify with Martha in the story Luke tells. Martha welcomes Jesus and his disciples into her home and immediately goes to work to serve them.
Hospitality is paramount in the Middle East and Martha believed in its importance. Imagine her frustration when her sister Mary ignores the rule of hospitality and Martha’s work in order to sit and listen to Jesus. Instead of speaking to her sister, she asks Jesus to intervene.
Jesus’ response is not unkind, which gives us an idea of his affection for her. He observes that Martha is worried about many things that distract her from really being present to him. He reminds her that there is only one thing that is truly important — listening to him. And that is what Mary has done.
Raising of Lazarus
In Martha, we see ourselves — worried and distracted by all we have to do in the world and forgetting to spend time with Jesus. It is, however, comforting to note that Jesus loved her just the same.
The next visit shows how well Martha learned this lesson. She is grieving the death of her brother with a house full of mourners when she hears that Jesus has just come to the area. She gets up immediately and leaves the guests, leaves her mourning, and goes to meet him.
Her conversation with Jesus shows her faith and courage. In this dialogue, she states clearly without a doubt that she believes in Jesus’ power, in the resurrection, and most of all that Jesus is the Son of God.
Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life
Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and life and then goes on to raise her brother from the dead. Our final picture of Martha in Scripture is the one that sums up who she was.
Jesus has returned to Bethany sometime later to share a meal with his good friends. In this home were three extraordinary people. We hear how brother Lazarus caused a stir when was brought back to life.
We hear how Mary causes a commotion at dinner by anointing Jesus with expensive perfume. But all we hear about Martha is the simple statement: “Martha served.” She isn’t in the spotlight, she doesn’t do showy things, she doesn’t receive spectacular miracles. She simply serves Jesus.
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Tradition of oils
The tradition of anointing with sacred oil is very old indeed. It is used in sacraments and also as a devotional practice. The sick person applies the oil and blesses themselves. As they do so, they are asked to pray to whomever the oil is dedicated to. The Irish blessings oils do not have miraculous power. It is God who has the power to heal. Applying the oil while praying is an important way for us to express our faith in God’s power. Moreover, by doing so we place our trust in God.
Luke 10; 33-34. The Good Samaritan
“But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them”.