Saints, Feast, Family
- Traditions passed down with Cooking, Crafting, & Caring -
Saint of the day:
Mary of Bethany
“There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” —Luke 10:42
The Story of Mary of Bethany
The great and holy myrrh-bearer Mary of Bethany is one of the women disciples of Jesus. She and her sister Martha are celebrated as saints on their shared feast day of June 4. They are also commemerated on the Third Sunday of Pascha or Sunday of Myrrh-bearing Women. Martha and Mary were believers in Christ even before Jesus Christ raised their brother St. Lazarus (October 17) from the dead. After the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and the murder of the holy Archdeacon Stephen a persecution against the Church of Jerusalem broke out, and Righteous Lazarus was cast out of Jerusalem. The holy sisters then assisted their brother in the proclaiming of the Gospel in various lands. They reposed in Cyprus, where their brother became the first Bishop of Kition after his resurrection from the dead. We do not know how they died.
Keeping the various Marys of the Bible straight can be a challenge. For centuries, St. Mary of Bethany was considered by many to be the same as Mary Magdalene. Deeper study and consideration have prompted most now to consider them to be two separate women.
Mary of Bethany was the sister of Martha and Lazarus of the town of Bethany, just a few miles away from Jerusalem. At some point, Jesus had developed a special friendship with these three siblings and had gone to their house for a visit. During the visit, Mary became engrossed in all Jesus had to say. She sat at his feet, listening attentively, apparently oblivious to her sister, Martha, who scurried about with serving duties. The frustrated Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not being helpful. Profoundly, Jesus replied that it was Mary who had made the better choice — that spiritual matters have a much higher priority than household chores.
Later on, Mary’s brother Lazarus became deathly ill. Mary and her sister sent word to Jesus to let him know of Lazarus’s condition, hoping for a visit. Jesus did go to Bethany; however, he delayed the visit by two days, and by the time he arrived, Mary’s brother had been dead for four days.
When Mary saw Jesus, she sorrowfully spoke of her disappointment, claiming that if he had been there, Lazarus could have been saved. Jesus then stunned Mary and her sister by going to the dead body of Lazarus, praying fervently to God, and then commanding the deceased man to rise. Mary’s confidence in Jesus surely soared as she witnessed her brother return to the living — still wrapped in his burial cloths!
According to the Gospel of John, not long after Lazarus was raised from the dead, Jesus was again in Bethany. This time, Mary anointed Jesus’s feet with oil and then dried them with her hair. The Gospels of Matthew and Mark present similar stories, which many sources consider to be based on the same incident. However, the sinful woman in Luke’s seventh chapter who bathed Jesus’ feet with tears is considered to be a different person.
A Week of Bible Journaling with St. Mary of Bethany
St. Mary of Bethany shares July 29 as a feast with her sister Martha, and brother Lazarus. St. Mary of Bethany’s desire to let all chores wait in order to sit with Jesus might prompt people doing a Bible Study or a spiritual enrichment class to turn to her as a patron. Spending a week with St. Mary of Bethany by reading the passages below can help you to know this good woman better. Take in each passage at a slow and deliberate pace, pray about the words, and jot down some ideas and thoughts. How might St. Mary of Bethany influence your spiritual journey?
Day 1) Luke 10:38–42
Day 2) John 11:1–16
Day 3) John 11:17–27
Day 4) John 11:28–37
Day 5) John 11:38–45
Day 6) John 12:1–8
Day 7) Matthew 26:6–13
Bethany (Greek: Βηθανία; Hebrew: בֵּית עַנְיָה) or what is locally known as Al-Eizariya or al-Azariya (Arabic: العيزرية, "(place) of Lazarus"), is a town in the West Bank. The name al-Eizariya refers to the New Testament figure Lazarus of Bethany, who according to the Gospel of John, was raised from the dead by Jesus. The traditional site of the miracle, the Tomb of Lazarus, in the city is a place of pilgrimage. The town is located on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives, less than 2 miles (3.2 km) from Jerusalem. (Palestine)
TheChurch of Saint Lazarus, Al-Eizariya
Labneh – Yogurt Cheese
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
heaping 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Toppings & serving options
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Za'atar, crushed pistachios, lemon zest, and/or red pepper flakes
Fresh mint leaves
Crisp veggies, pita, or crackers
In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and salt.
Scoop the mixture onto a layer of cheesecloth (or 2 layers, depending on the thickness of your yogurt).
Bring the edges of the cheesecloth together, tie it around a wooden spoon, and place the spoon
across the top of a medium bowl so that the labneh hangs in the center but does not touch the
bottom of the bowl. Chill overnight.
Remove the labneh from the cheese cloth. Transfer to bowl and serve as a spread with
desired toppings and veggies, pita, or crackers for dipping. It can also be dolloped,
like soft goat cheese, onto salads, pizza, or flatbread.