Memorial of St. Martha, virgin
Old Calendar: St. Martha
From: John 11:19-27
The Raising of Lazarus (Continuation)
 And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, while Mary sat in the house.  Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You."  Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."  Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."  Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live,  and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"  She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who is coming into the world."
1-45. This chapter deals with one of Jesus' most outstanding miracles. The Fourth Gospel, by including it, demonstrates Jesus' power over death, which the Synoptic Gospels showed by reporting the raising of the daughter of Jairus (Matthew 9:25 and paragraph) and of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12).
The Evangelist first sets the scene (verses 1-16); then he gives Jesus' conversation with Lazarus' sisters (verses 17-37); finally, he reports the raising of Lazarus four days after his death (verses 38-45). Bethany was only about three kilometers (two miles) from Jerusalem (verse 18). On the days prior to His passion, Jesus often visited this family, to which He was very attached. St. John records Jesus' affection (verses 3, 5, 36) by describing His emotion and sorrow at the death of His friend.
By raising Lazarus our Lord shows His divine power over death and thereby gives proof of His divinity, in order to confirm His disciples' faith and reveal Himself as the Resurrection and the Life. Most Jews, but not the Sadducees, believed in the resurrection of the body. Martha believed in it (cf. verse 24).
Apart from being a real, historical event, Lazarus' return to life is a sign of our future resurrection: we too will return to life. Christ, by His glorious resurrection through He is the "first-born from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5), is also the cause and model of our resurrection. In this His resurrection is different from that of Lazarus, for "Christ being raised from the dead will never die again" (Romans 6:9), whereas Lazarus returned to earthly life, later to die again.
21-22. According to St. Augustine, Martha's request is a good example of confident prayer, a prayer of abandonment into the hands of God, who knows better than we what we need. Therefore, "she did not say, But now I ask You to raise my brother to life again. [...] All she said was, I know that You can do it; if you will, do it; it is for you to judge whether to do it, not for me to presume" ("In Ioann. Evang.", 49, 13). The same can be said of Mary's words, which St. John repeats at verse 32.
24-26. Here we have one of those concise definitions Christ gives of Himself, and which St. John faithfully passes on to us (cf. John 10:9; 14:6; 15:1): Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. He is the Resurrection because by His victory over death He is the cause of the resurrection of all men. The miracle He works in raising Lazarus is a sign of Christ's power to give life to people. And so, by faith in Jesus Christ, who arose first from among the dead, the Christian is sure that he too will rise one day, like Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:23; Colossians 1;18). Therefore, for the believer death is not the end; it is simply the step to eternal life, a change of dwelling-place, as one of the Roman Missal's Prefaces of Christian Death puts it: "Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death, we gain an everlasting dwelling place in Heaven".
By saying that He is Life, Jesus is referring not only to that life which begins beyond the grave, but also to the supernatural life which grace brings to the soul of man when he is still a wayfarer on this earth.
"This life, which the Father has promised and offered to each man in Jesus Christ, His eternal and only Son, who 'when the time had fully come' (Galatians 4:4), became incarnate and was born of the Virgin Mary, is the final fulfillment of man's vocation. It is in a way the fulfillment of the 'destiny' that God has prepared for him from eternity. This 'divine destiny' is advancing, in spite of all the enigmas, the unsolved riddles, the twists and turns of 'human destiny' in the world of time. Indeed, while all this, in spite of all the riches of life in time, necessarily and inevitably leads to the frontiers of death and the goal of the destruction of the human body, beyond that goal we see Christ. 'I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me...shall never die.' In Jesus Christ, who was crucified and laid in the tomb and then rose again, 'our hope of resurrection dawned...the bright romise of immortality' ("Roman Missal", Preface of Christian Death, I), on the way to which man, through the death of the body, shares with the whole of visible creation the necessity to which matter is subject" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Redemptor Hominis", 18).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.