“Meanwhile a large crowd heard that Jesus was there and came to see not only Jesus, but also Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus as well, since it was because of him that many of the people were leaving them and believing in Jesus.”
- John 12: 9-11, The Inclusive Bible
“Monday of Holy Week” is not a very catchy title. The other options, “The Day after Palm Sunday” and “Three Days before Maundy Thursday,” are equally unassuming. Unlike other days this holy week, today is not typically a day celebrated by the church with a liturgical gathering. While at first glimpse the day appears not to have much to offer, it’s worth a second look. The biblical reading assigned to “Holy Monday” in the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) includes three verses from the Bible that we would not encounter if our only entrée to the Bible were this three-year cycle. Today’s poignant gem is tucked into three verses (9-11) in the 12th chapter of the Gospel of John. Here’s what I learn today:
- To search for what is not immediately visible is to be present to the whole story.
- Only the privileged need not be bothered by the intricacies of narratives (“don’t bother me with the details”).
- Nascent power in the “stuff” around the edges and that which has gone hidden awaits.
Sleuthing for and discovering hidden details is worth the effort. Check it out: A guy gets raised from the dead and gets blamed for it. Really? Lazarus could not have finagled his way to new life. He was dead. Lazarus could not have finessed peoples’ allegiance away from the chief priests and toward Jesus. He was dead.
Those whose power was threatened could not be bothered with the detail of Lazarus’ lack of agency so they planned to kill him for his apparent “guilt by association” with the one who chooses life over death. “So the chief priests planned to kill Lazarus as well, since it was because of him that many of the people were leaving them and believing in Jesus.” This part of Lazarus’ story is like Holy Monday (and vice versa); there but unexplored—there but ignored.
On this Holy Monday I am reflecting on how I often miss these and other important details. How does my privilege keep me from paying attention to the important intricacies of peoples’ narratives?
Once I know, I cannot unknow. And so, on this Holy Monday, indeed, during this entire holy week’s dress rehearsal for this holy life, I pray I might
- defend what has been revealed.
- seek that which is still hidden.
- explore around the edges for what has yet to be exposed.
To do this alone would only reinforce privilege since perspective is always power-laden.
And so, I pray I might
- partner with others who defend, seek and explore.
Spoiler alert: Lazarus lives. Jesus doesn’t . . . at first.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us. Amen.
- Rev. Dr. Shauna Hannan
Professor of Homiletics, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary