Feast of Sts. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany (July 29)   10 comments

Above:  The Raising of Lazarus

Image in the Public Domain



Friends of Jesus

In 2018, July 29 is nearly universally the feast of these three saints, siblings, as well as friends of Jesus.  There are some other feast days associated with them, though.  In the Roman Catholic Church December 17 is an alternative feast day for St. Lazarus.  In the Eastern Orthodox Church June 4 is the Feast of Sts. Mary and Martha while October 17 is the Feast of St. Lazarus.  The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia reserves July 29 for Sts. Mary and Martha, as The Episcopal Church did prior to 2010.  This is not a comprehensive list, so one might identify more exceptions.

The germane chapters of the Bible are Luke 10, John 11, and John 12.

In Luke 10:38-42 we meet Sts. Mary and Martha, who already knew Jesus well.  In this famous story St. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, as a male disciple would, listening to him as St. Martha, tending to the duties of hospitality, takes offense that she must attend to all those tasks alone.  We should be kind in our evaluations of St. Martha, for somebody had to do the housework.  A now-deceased rector of my parish, I have heard, commented that Jesus should have helped Martha in the kitchen.

We meet St. Lazarus in John 11.  We meet him after his decease.  The faith of St. Martha in Jesus is evident in her conversation with him (verses 20-27).  In the Johannine chronology, the raising of Lazarus led directly to the crucifixion of Jesus (see John 12).

We read of one of the four accounts of the anointing of Jesus in John 12:1-11.  One can read the other stories in Luke 7:36-50, Mark 14:3-9, and Matthew 26:6-13.  In John 12 we read of St. Mary of Bethany anointing the feet of Jesus in her home.  Details vary from account to account, due to multiple anointings, among other reasons.  The traditional misidentification of St. Mary of Magdala with the unnamed, sinful woman who anointed Jesus in Luke 7:36-50 led to the conflation of St. Mary of Bethany and St. Mary of Magdala.  Therefore the subsequent legends of St. Mary of Magdala have become legends of St. Mary of Bethany.

One might wonder how many visits to that home in Bethany Gospel writers did not record.  The answer is certainly “many.”  One should also rejoice that Jesus had good friends he could visit and around whom he could relax.





Generous God, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed the friendship

and hospitality of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany:

Open our hearts to love you,

our ears to hear you,

and our hands to welcome and serve you in others,

through Jesus Christ our risen Lord; who with you and the

Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ruth 2:5-12

Psalm 36:5-10

Romans 12:9-13

John 11:1-7, 17-44

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 493


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