Hear me, coastlands,
listen, distant peoples.
Before birth the LORD called me,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made my mouth like a sharp-edged sword,
concealed me, shielded by his hand.
He made me a sharpened arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
He said to me, You are my servant,
in you, Israel, I show my glory.
Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
for nothing and for naught spent my strength,
Yet my right is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
I am honored in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Thus says the LORD,
the redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,
To the one despised, abhorred by the nations,
the slave of rulers:
When kings see you, they shall stand up,
and princes shall bow down
Because of the LORD who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.
Note that we meditate on these Suffering Servant Songs on two levels: 1) as originally written by Isaiah about 600 B.C. at the time of the Babylonian Exile and the return of God’s people; 2) at the time of the first Christians who witnessed the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ Jesus, the Servant.
Keep in mind the historical setting for the composition by Isaiah — he is speaking to a people, humiliated and taken into a foreign land where it was challenging to remain true to the faith. It had been a long time, close to 50 years. Would the faithful God come to their rescue and restore them to their previous glory of his presence? Some similarities to today. In this Song the prophet mentions a faith fact that we may tend to overlook — God speaks to his people. He is not silent and his servant is not to be silent. He made my mouth like a sharp edged sword. In the Exile the word of God took on more prominence. The servant is to “listen”, take to heart God’s promise/word and put it into practice for all the world to see — to show the world that God is in our midst with his saving power. Isaiah states outright that the servant is Israel, the people of God as a whole. This has been his plan from the beginning — from my mother’s womb he has given me my name. Now what do we see here that resonates with the saving action of Christ Jesus, cross and resurrection? Jesus himself is the Word, who speaks to us through the centuries, gathering us into the intimate bond and relationship with the God of the Covenant. He gathers the flock as a Shepherd. Being raised on the cross he gathers all people to himself in union with the Father. He makes us Church. The Church is the living sign of his Father’s covenant love and mercy. In this way the risen Lord, Servant that he is, reveals the glory of God in our time.
The United States Catholic Conference of Bishops has several versions of the Stations of the Cross
http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/index.cfm. Go to Prayers and Devotions
There you will find the a series of meditations by Saint Pope John Paul II from 1991