St. Martha, Cooking and Jeremiah 29:11

What the patron saint of cooks and a beloved Bible verse can teach us about faithful living around the dinner table.

“Christ with Martha and Mary,” from an unknown 17th-century Master of the Flemish School
“Christ with Martha and Mary,” from an unknown 17th-century Master of the Flemish School (photo: Public Domain)

In honor of St. Martha’s feast day, a few musings on cooking, faith and Jeremiah 29:11:

 

St. Teresa of Avila once observed that “the Lord walks among the pots and the pans.” I’ve come to see the truth of that statement.

I love to cook, so I am always trying out a new recipe. I enjoy watching cooking shows and getting new ideas for my own recipes from cooking shows and magazines. As I’m preparing a meal or keeping an eye on my baking, I take time to talk with the Lord. I tell Him about my day, what’s on my mind and my hope that my family or friends will enjoy the food I am making.

There really is something special about a kitchen. The space represents good food and lots of love. I particularly cherish the times I’ve spent cooking with my family. Making sweet and sour chicken with my mom and sister ultimately reminds me of my paternal grandmother, who first cooked the time-cherished recipe. And I always smile when I think about baking with my sister and maternal grandmother over countless summer vacations.

During our time in the kitchen, family recipes have been passed down — including each Easter, when we bake pound cakes in the shape of lambs. But our times together mean much more than that. We bond in the kitchen. Our kitchen time is for talking about our lives. Events and experiences are shared and wisdom imparted. We talk about family. We talk about faith. We have seen the Lord there with us.

One of my favorite recent memories has been sitting around my grandparents’ kitchen table after dinner, learning about our family history, looking at historical documents and sharing memories of loved ones past. Going to Mass as a family is always a blessed time, too.

Enjoying our food and the company of those gathered around our table is what God wants for us.

Cooking meals for my family reminds me of how God has continued to show me who I am, which is the heart of the message of Jeremiah 29:11. His plans include your finding out where your interests and talents intersect.

Christmas cookies are an essential in my kitchen, too. One year, my sister and I baked a batch of sugar cookies before heading out to the Christmas Eve candlelight Mass.

That is one of my best Christmas memories. The comfort of cooking up tasty traditions followed by the beauty of the church aglow in soft candlelight, as standard Christmas carols were sung before Mass, was so special.

I enjoy entertaining with treats like scones and cookies. I even have hosted a cookie party or two. It’s a great way to gather people together: Gathering in a community of faith, family and friends is so important. In the fast-paced, technology-driven world, I think people often forget the little things associated with gathering around the table as a family for the goodness of a home-cooked meal.

Of course, we mustn’t give in to the Martha mentality ... solely focused on getting the meal done just right. Each meal does not have to be a perfect creation worthy of the Food Network. Even while cooking, Christ must be our first priority. Although it is a basic, everyday task, cooking should be done out of Christian love, as a gift to God and others. As St. Paul tells us, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). And as Mother Teresa once said, “To show great love for God and our neighbor we need not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.” Even making dinner.

 

Amy Smith, the Register’s

associate editor, is the author of 

The Plans God Has for You: Hopeful Lessons for Young Women

(Emmaus Road Publishing, 2020), from which this

excerpt was reprinted.