Eric Huntsman discusses the neglected outcast of Holy Week.
As I note in my seasonal blog, the Monday of Holy Week is what I sometimes refer to as one of the “overlooked days” of Holy Week. Even churches, such as the Roman Catholic or Anglican, that are heavily liturgical do not tend to have specific services for Monday and Tuesday (or even Wednesday, as far as I know), though sometimes they have general Passion Week collects (or communal prayer) on the mornings of those days.
Indeed, following those of you at BCC who are involved in the “Mormon Lectionary Project” lets me know that some of you are well aware of this tradition of communal prayer, and you may already be familiar with the collect for this day:
Almighty God, whose most dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace; though Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
The texts for Monday include Mark 11:12–12:12; Matt 21:18–22:15; Luke 19:47–20:19; John 12:20–36 (because I generally accept the principle of Marcan priority, I prefer to list references to Mark first so that readers can see how Matthew and Luke take and adapt the earlier Marcan material). These break into two major sections: the cursing of the fig tree and Jesus’ first day of teaching in the temple. Both the symbolic act of cursing the fig tree and the parables that Jesus delivers about the rejection of the priestly leadership symbolize how Old Israel had failed to bring forth fit fruit and would be destroyed, and in this they serve as a lesson for us, calling upon us to be faithful so that we can be received in glory about the King’s triumphant return.
For a detailed treatment of the cursing story and the different teachings in the temple, as well as for suggestions on how this can be made more accessible for children and families, see my treatment of Monday on my blog. You will also find there musical selections, including a treatment of a Handel Messiah chorus, which like others this week have arisen from my having been immersed in that great work with the Tab Choir this year. There is a also a link to a video clip in which I give a guided tour of the Temple Mount where many of these teachings took place.
My approach to Holy Week, which divides it into distinct kingly and priestly portions, sees Jesus’ summary judgment, and punishment, of the fig tree and his parables illustrating the rejection of Israel’s leaders as part of his role as the rightful king. Anticipating the fuller realization of this judgment before and with his Second Coming reminds us that his Passion and work are not just about Gethsemane, Calvary, and the Empty Tomb. They look forward to his final defeat of Satan and the great, but righteous, judgment that lie ahead.