Holy Monday: Lazarus of Bethany

You can listen to this reflection here.  Today’s gospel reading is here. This Holy Week, Water Daily will look at the readings appointed for each day and reflect from the perspective of one the people on the fringes of the story. We too are on the fringes of this story – and we are invited to come into its heart this week. May these holy men and women draw us closer. 

Lazarus of Bethany: So, they want to kill me – I, who have already tasted death. More than tasted – spent four days in that place where there is no light. Came back to myself in a cold, dark, rancid place; came back to myself at the sound of his voice calling me. Stumbled toward the light beyond the rock they’d just moved to let me out, not sure where I was, or who.

If I hadn’t seen the power and love in this man who became my friend, I might say Jesus was the worst thing that could have happened to my family. His visits caused my sisters to squabble, his friendship drew unwanted attention. But I can say with my whole heart that Jesus was the best thing. He drew out the gentleness in Martha, who so often uses her intelligence and competence to control events and other people. And I’ve seen our sister Mary show a new boldness and courage since coming to know Jesus.

Like tonight, at dinner at our house – she took a whole jar of nard that must have cost her the earth, and anointed Jesus’ feet with it. Just got on her knees and anointed him and then wiped his feet with her hair. It was extraordinary, and unsettling. Didn’t make his disciples happy – don’t know if it was the extravagance or the intimacy that bothered them most. But Jesus defended her, talking about her having “bought it for the day of my burial.” He knew the end of this life was coming soon; I wonder if he knew how ghastly that end would be? Did he fear it? The suffering? The dying? Did he know what would come next – really know? Or did he have to walk by faith, like all of us?

And now, because so many have come to believe in Jesus because he raised me, they want to kill me. The symbol. The forerunner. You know what? They don’t scare me. Death no longer scares me. Like my sisters, I believe Jesus is who he says he is, the Anointed of God, the Messiah we’ve been awaiting.

And I know that the next time I leave this life, it won’t be to the place of complete darkness. For he will be with me, the Light of the World will illumine even that darkness and make it holy. I just wish he didn’t have to pass through the darkness himself…

What in Lazarus’ story – or Martha’s, or Mary’s – brings up a story in you? A story of new life returning from dead places?
A story of hospitality and service? A story of extravagant sacrifice to honor Jesus or your faith? What do you want to offer Jesus today?  

You are welcome to join Christ Church for online worship at 7 this evening – here is the link. Our Holy Week line-up of mostly online services is here.

© Kate Heichler, 2024. To receive Water Daily by email each morning, subscribe hereHere are the bible readings for Holy Monday. Water Daily is also a podcast – subscribe to it here on Apple, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform.

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