Lent 2023; Fifth Sunday of Lent
A gentle lamb we see its image with a sword thrust through piercing the willing Christ we worship. As the season of Lent begins to reach a climax of praying, fasting, and almsgiving we look one more time to God’s servant and how much love is found within the very child of Mary, God’s only Son, chose to pay the ransom due for my sins. If I was the only person left on earth Jesus still would have come for me climbing the hill of Calvary.
“See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him - so marred was was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals; So shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; For those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it.” (Is 52: 13 -15). The beginning of the fourth Suffering Servant song.
“Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, no appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet, it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins. Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny?
When he was cut off from the land of the living and smitten for the sin of his people a grave was assigned him among the wicked and burial place with evildoers, though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood. But the Lord was pleased to crush him in infirmity.” If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty. Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked, and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.” (Is. 53: 1 - 12).
Excerpts from the priestly prayer before his Passion. A monologue of Jesus to his Father.
“Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (Jn. 17: 1 - 2).
“And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world while I am coming to you.” I speak this in the world so they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” “As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so they may believe that you sent me.” (Jn 17: 11, 13-14, 18 - 19).
A final farewell to his friends who couldn’t believe or understand all he taught would end in glory. But the glory would not be seen or understood until they saw the empty tomb. “Then the other disciple also went in, the one who arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.” (Jn. 20: 8).
Ralph B. Hathaway