Question: Was Mary Magdalen (Mary of Magdala) the sister of Martha and Lazarus?
Answer:Pope Saint Gregory the Great expressed the idea that the two women were one in the same in his homily #33 on the Gospels. He may have had information lost to future times, but the Gospels do not necessarily equate the two women. Only Luke describes a woman who anointed Jesus’ feet as a sinner. His account takes place a year earlier than the other three, and in geographical proximity to Magdala. Luke identifies the host, Simon as a Pharisee, but not as a leper, something which the evangelist-physician would not have missed. Mary Magdalen is identified by name following the account of the dinner.
Matthew and Mark place the dinner in the house of “Simon the leper,” in Bethany, near Jerusalem, just a few days before the crucifixion. John says that Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha served, but doesn’t say the dinner was in her home--quite likely, a leper would not have thought to serve the dinner himself, so it is reasonable to assume that Simon engaged Mary’ help to serve in his home. Neither Matthew, Mark, or John identify the woman as a sinner, so the Gospels suggest that we are dealing with two different women.