THE SUFFERING SERVANT – PART I
Categories: Father Fay's Section
The early Christians including the Gospel writers immediately identified Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection with the Servant of the Lord in the Prophet Isaiah (about 600 B.C.). You will agree with them. The Church uses these four Songs in her liturgy of Holy Week.
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.
Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spreads out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
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.
This servant of the Lord has a mission, given by the Lord God for which he has been chosen. In choosing and calling the servant the Lord promises his divine assistance so that this mission will not fail. At Isaiah’s time the mission was to return from the Exile and be a sign of God’s presence (glory) through a victory of justice, i.e. showing the world that our God is a holy God, whose goodness is revealed in his merciful love to his people in the form of a Covenant of eternal communion with their God. The Lord is faithful to his people time after time and does not cease to bless them (forgive) even though they slip into unfaithfulness and sinfulness to his Covenant laws. Thus the servant is the holy people of God who are a light for the nations.
On the second level, as the early Christians saw it, Christ Jesus fit this description perfectly. He has God’s Spirit, he is the reconciler of the Covenant, he is the conqueror of sin and death (victor of justice), he has been chosen by the Father, he is the Perfect Servant (Son) of the heavenly Father. In addition, Jesus the Son of God is one with God’s people (the body of Christ, the Church). So the servant of Isaiah’s time, who is the people of Israel — as will be stated later — now in Jesus has the dimension of the body of Christ, Head (Servant) and members (the people of the Church). Together we are sign of God’s holiness and goodness for the world.
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