They must have stayed in Bethany

Bethany, St. Martha

Where did Jesus and his followers stay when they came to Jerusalem for Passover? John’s gospel points to Bethany near the Mount of Olives. Bethany is now part of East Jerusalem, a contentious area of the city today. At the time of Jesus it was where pilgrims from Galilee stayed when they come up for the feasts.

The meal in Bethany recalled today in our gospel says that Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, were friends of Jesus. He raised Lazarus from the dead. Bethany would be a safe place for Jesus and his followers to stay.

My community, the Passionists, have the Church of St. Martha and a retreat house in the ancient village of Bethany. Olive trees still grace the land, as they did in Jesus’ time. Ancient caves are found here. They probably provided shelter for pilgrims to the feasts. Could Jesus have stayed in a cave like this? Bethany evokes memories of the time Jesus was here. 

Caves in Bethany, St. Martha

The traditional tomb of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead,  is a short distance from St. Martha’s, although an Israeli security wall blocks access to it now.

Slavic pilgrims Lazarus Tomb, Bethany


From Bethany Jesus and the others would walk a couple of miles to the temple. He taught there and made claims that unsettled the city’s leaders, then he returned to the safety of Bethany, among friends. Judas knew the place. On Holy Thursday he gave Jesus up as he prayed in Gethsemane, the Garden of Olives, just over the hill from Bethany.

Luke’s narrative of the Passion mentions a crowd of people followed Jesus on the way to his death “including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children…’” 

Bethany 1800s

Women from Galilee followed him to Jerusalem and they were there when he died and was buried.. Mary, his mother was one of them. I’m sure Martha and Mary from Bethany would have been there too. Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the other women from Galilee must have stayed in Bethany. They must have returned there after his death and burial. Would Lazarus give them some comfort and hope?

1 thought on “They must have stayed in Bethany

  1. jedode1

    Thank you, Fr. Victor, for taking us on a journey backwards & forwards, to appreciate the land & time of Jesus Christ. May we suffer with Him, that we indeed live with Him eternally. Amen.


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