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On Siblings’ Day, call on Jesus’ friends

Jezus w domu Marty i Marii

Wikimedia Commons | domena publiczna

Kathleen N. Hattrup - published on 04/10/24

Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are a lesson for siblings and for friends. Let's reach out to those God has given us as spiritual and physical brothers and sisters today.

Pope Francis says that St. Martha is one of his favorite people in the Bible:

In Chapter 10 of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus visits Martha and her sister Mary in their home. “Mary, yes, is contemplative but the one who works and gets things done is Martha,” the Pope explained. “She reminds me very much of men and women who work so hard carrying on the work for the faith in the Church.”

He also finds a lot of inspiration in Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. This April 10, the Pope mentioned him in the general audience.

Jesus is not a diaphanous, ascetic God, [un Dio diafano e asettico] who does not know human emotions. Quite the contrary. Faced with the death of His friend Lazarus, He breaks down in tears, and His impassioned spirit is apparent in some of His expressions, such as when He says: “I came to cast fire upon the earth, and would that it were already kindled!” (Lk 12:49).

Perhaps the Pope finds such inspiration in the Bethany trio because he is convinced that priests really need to dedicate time to friendship.

Lay people who offer priests true friendship, the Pope said, “are like the home of Bethany, where Jesus entrusted his weariness to Martha and Mary, and, thanks to their care, was able to find rest and refreshment.”

In any case, the Holy Father decided in 2021 to expand the feast day traditionally given to St. Martha alone (July 29) to include the three siblings. The decree said:

In the household of Bethany the Lord Jesus experienced the family spirit and friendship of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, and for this reason the Gospel of John states that he loved them. Martha generously offered him hospitality, Mary listened attentively to his words and Lazarus promptly emerged from the tomb at the command of the One who humiliated death.

The decree says that the siblings offer an “important evangelical witness” in “welcoming the Lord Jesus into their home, in listening to him attentively, in believing that he is the resurrection and the life.”

On this National Siblings’ Day, perhaps we should take a moment to interiorly travel to Bethany, and find there the rest and relaxation that Jesus found with his friends. And then — why not? — let’s reach out to our friends today, and our siblings too.

Prayer for my siblings

This prayer, drawn from Scripture, the Catechism, and Pope Francis, asks God to help us be siblings intent on holiness.


Father, I thank you for the gift of my siblings. 

Thank you for teaching me though them: Teach us to relate to others, to listen and share, to be patient and show respect, to help one another. Through my siblings, you invite me to grow in closeness, care, and respect. Help me and help us.

Make us generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Our affection suggests this; the charity of Christ demands it. Help me and help us.

Inspire me to always consider how we can stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, and encouraging one another. Help me and help us.

Father, I pray for siblings who suffer hurt from the family, siblings who do not know your mercy and love, siblings who do not turn to the Church as mother, siblings who are estranged. I pray for and with siblings who have gone from this life, also for those who left for eternity even before being born into our family.

May the prayers of Peter and Andrew, James and John, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and all other saints, especially sibling-saints, help me and us to draw closer to you. Help me and help us. Amen.

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