Jesus' Love of Martha and Mary


The object which Christ contemplates, which he loves in the Church, is not human nature simply, but human nature illuminated and renovated by his own supernatural power.

The Church is a collection of souls, brought together in one by God's secret grace, though that grace comes to them through visible instruments, and unites them to a visible hierarchy.

What is seen is not the whole of the Church, but the visible part of it.  When we say that Christ loves his Church, we mean that he loves, nothing of earthly nature, but the fruit of his own grace; — the varied fruits of his grace in innumerable hearts, viewed as brought together in unity of faith and love and obedience, of sacraments, and doctrine, and order, and worship.  The object which he contemplates, which he loves in the Church, is not human nature simply, but human nature illuminated and renovated by his own supernatural power.  If he has called the visible Church his spouse, it is because she is the special seat of this divine gift.

If he loved Peter, it was not simply because he was his Apostle, but because Peter had that intense, unearthly love of him, and that faith which flesh and blood could not exercise, which were the fitting endowments of an Apostle.  If he loved John, it was not as merely one of the Twelve, but because he again was adorned with the special gift of supernatural chastity.  If he loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus, it was not only as his friends and guests, but for their burning charity, and their pure contrition, and their self-sacrificing devotion.

So it is now:  what he creates, what he contemplates, what he loves, what he rewards, is (in Saint Peter's words) "the hidden man of the heart," of which the visible Church is the expression, the protection, the instrumental cause and the outward perfection.




John Henry Cardinal Newman. "Jesus' Love of Martha and Mary." excerpt from Sermons Preached on Various Occasions (U.K.: Gracewing Publishers, 2007).

This excerpt appeared in Magnificat in July 2013.


Blessed John Henry Newman was born in London, 21 February 1801, and died Birmingham, 11 August 1890. As Vicar of St. Mary's Oxford he exerted a profound spiritual influence on the Church of England. Joining the Catholic Church in 1845 he founded Oratories of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham and London, was the first rector of the Catholic University in Dublin, and was made Cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879. Through his published writings and private correspondence he created a greater understanding of the Catholic Church and its teachings, helping many persons with their religious difficulties. At his death he was praised for his unworldliness, humility, and prayerful contact with the invisible world. He was declared Venerable on 22 January 1991. John Henry Cardinal Newman is the author of many books including, Parochial and Plain Sermons, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, Difficulties of Anglicans, The Idea of a University, Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford Between A.D. 1826 and 1843, and Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

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