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date: 15 December 2019

Martha and Mary of Bethany, 

The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art and Architecture
Tom Devonshire JonesTom Devonshire Jones, Linda MurrayLinda Murray, Peter MurrayPeter Murray

sisters of *Lazarus. The first mention of the two sisters is in Luke 10: 38–42, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. ‘She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet, and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part which will not be taken away from her.”’ From the manner in which Christ spoke to Martha it may be assumed that this was not the first time he had been her guest, and from the place that this event has in S. Luke's Gospel, it is clearly well before the account of the raising of Lazarus in Bethany. The story of this last, most public and striking of Christ's miracles is recounted only in John 11: 1–45. In its sequel ( John 12: 1–9), when Jesus is having supper with Lazarus and his sisters, Mary anointed his feet with ointment of spikenard, and wiped them with her hair. This aroused the cupidity of Judas, who protested at the waste, saying that this costly perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor. (But, as S. John remarked, it was not that he cared about the poor; but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Then Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’ This was followed on the next day by the entry into Jerusalem and the beginning of the events which culminate in the Passion.... ...

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