SS Mary, Martha and Lazarus

Our monastic calendar commemorates the household of Bethany today, not just St Martha. It is a feast of friendship and hospitality which reminds us of the different elements in monastic life: work, prayer, living a completely new life in Christ, one so clearly focused on him that it can be welcoming to others.

Most of us could probably talk about our ‘Martha’ days, when we seem to run ourselves ragged doing things; our ‘Mary’ days, when we seem just to rest in the Lord for a few precious moments; but what about our ‘Lazarus’ days? How often do we advert to the fact that our baptism has made a difference to our lives, that we live now ‘not I but Christ in me’? And if it is Christ living in us, shouldn’t our lives be more luminous, more gracious than often they are?

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3 thoughts on “SS Mary, Martha and Lazarus”

  1. Our Lazarus’ days — an interesting point. Do you mean being in the tomb, or resurrected? Is this the connection with baptism? For Jesus Christ living in me, I would have to make space, right?
    Ah, you have my mind twirling… Thank you.

  2. Can anyone recommend some reading to help me clarify the Mary Magdalene/Mary of Bethany debate?

    So often the Mary/Martha story is described in terms of female role models and of opposites. It is one that I have struggled with for a long time. It is also one that has inspired some interesting artworks – Vermeer and Velasquez. What a difference it makes to introduce Lazarus into the story – thank you.

  3. Lazarus days . . . both in the tomb AND resurrected, just as we are ‘simul peccator et iustus’, at once sinners and justified. I think the best way of clarifying Mary of Magdala and Mary of Bethany is simply to read the gospels and then think of all the times you have heard the Magdalene traduced. By the way, if you don’t know Giles Contstable’s study of the interpretations of Martha and Mary, it’s excellent reading. See his ‘Three Studies in Medieval Thought’ published by CUP in 1998.

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