The Prophet Isaiah brings to our senses a most eye-opening kaleidoscope of the Suffering of Christ, especially in the four Songs of the “Suffering Servant.” I hope to provide in this reflection a direct view into those scenes that should bring us to tears, allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our failings, and bring us to our knees with a sense of contrition and relief that we are a redeemed people because of the Passion/Death/Resurrection of Jesus Christ on Calvary!
Let’s begin with the first Song; “The Servant of the Lord” (Chapter 42: 1-4). “Here is my Servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.”
See ourselves as that bruised reed, a smoldering wick; weak in our sinfulness, fearful of the consequences of our falling way from God’s Love, and needing a champion who will overlook our human weakness, and connect His Forgiveness within our persona.
Prayer: Father, we come before you to seek the sign of humility as we prepare to live 40 days with our eyes set on your Son’s Humiliation of rejection from His own people. Help us O’Lord to remember why this sign is a reminder of our own lack of understanding and the need to seek the direction Jesus set before us as we journey towards Calvary. (RBH 1969)
Second Song; “The Servant of the Lord” (Chapter 49: 1-3). “Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory.”
Listen carefully to the Old Testament readings during the Easter Vigil Mass, and understand that we as Christians are in fact Jewish first, wherein the salvation from God was directed to Israel and then to the whole world. We are recipients of God’s Love and Peace through the adherence to the Jews and their own plight even in this 21st century.
Prayer: Father, as we listen to the sound of your knocking at our heart we are reminded that it is your Son Jesus Christ who waits for us to open inviting Him into a welcoming abode. Our journey through Lent requires us to open to the gentle whisper like Elijah waiting in the cave and invite Him in as we walk together to Gethsemane. O’Lord walk with us as we journey forward. (RBH 1969)
Third Song: “Salvation only through the Lord’s Servant” (Chapter 50: 4-6) “The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard ; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”
It should be me, and you who have denied Christ in our daily walk without ever considering how much our sins, often unrecognizable to our senses, have placed Jesus on this walk to Calvary. He took upon himself the punishment that was ours; suffered because of His Love; died because of His Father’s Divine Plan to save us from eternal death.
Prayer: Father, there are times when words fail us as we see the rejection and ignominy your people inflict upon your Son as He moves forward toward Jerusalem on His fateful journey. Fill our voices with praise and compassion as we too walk singing songs of lament and fear for our dear brother Jesus Christ. Stay with us Father in your mercy. (RBH 1969)
Fourth Song: “Suffering and Triumph of the Servant of the Lord” (52: 13-15; 53: 1-6) “See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him-so marred was his look beyond that of mortals- So shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; For those who have not seen shall see, those who have not heard shall understand it.”
“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, nor 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.”
Take a deep breath as we ponder the words of this last Suffering Song. There can be no better exhortation than this verse. Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to fulfill His Plan to share His Life and Love with us. The judicious plan is called Divine Justice! God paid the price of each of us by sending His Word to become our sin and therefore destroy final death for us all on the tree of life.
Prayer: Father, as we reach the final weeks of Lent, our walk will be the Way of the Cross; each step bringing our hearts closer to the final sign of God’s everlasting forgiveness. (RBH 1969)