In the first instance, Martha questions Jesus about her sister, who was sitting listening at the Lord’s feet while Martha was busy preparing the meal in the Gospel of St. Luke:
“Martha was busy about much serving. She stood and said: ‘Lord hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? Speak to her therefore, that she help me.’
“And the Lord answering, said to her: ‘Martha, Martha, thou art careful and art troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her’” (10:40-42).
We also find her questioning Jesus about the death of her brother, Lazarus, in St. John’s Gospel, where she comes to a deeper faith in the divinity of Christ, much like the example of the Samaritan woman (John 4:15).
“Martha, therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus had come, went to meet him, but Mary sat at home. Martha therefore said to Jesus: ‘Lord, if thou had been here, my brother would not have died. But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it to thee.’
“Jesus said to her: ‘Thy brother shall rise again.’ “Martha said to him: ‘I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day.’
“Jesus said to her: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, although he be dead, shall live. And everyone that lives and believes in me shall not die forever. Believest thou this?’
“She said to him: ‘Yea, Lord I have believed that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world’” (11:20-27).
The third instance is a reference to Jesus, shortly before the Holy Week, when Our Lord had supper at the house of Lazarus along with Martha and Mary (John 12:1-2). He then stayed as their guest there that night.
“Jesus, therefore, six days before the pasch, came to Bethany, where Lazarus had been dead, whom Jesus raised to life. And they made him a supper there, and Martha served. And Lazarus was one of them that were at table with Him.”
From there, Our Lord would leave to enter triumphant into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. That blessed family would, therefore, provide a place for Our Lord to rest His head a short while before the most solemn week in the History of mankind.
In her three reported encounters with Jesus, St. Martha represented the Three Ways of the Interior Life, as taught by theologians such as Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, a famous French theologian of the time of Pius XII.