Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday in Holy Week - 2012

The Return of the Prodigal Son
Batoni (1773)

This first reading is the Second of the Four Suffering Servant Songs from the Book of Isaiah.  As in each of the "songs" Isaiah presents the mission of Israel which easily represents Jesus and the final days of his life on this earth of ours.

We know that whole story.  And Isaiah's words and frustration and feeling that all that has been done is for naught.  Imagine what must have gone through the mind of Jesus as he looked out from his "throne" on the cross.  Did he ever feel as though his mission was a failure?  Surely, as a man, he must have thought that enemies had prevailed.  How did he feel for his closest associates, the faithful apostles, and especially his mother?  What pains must have seared her heart.  Is is at all surprising that from the cross come the words "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me."

Jesus, sent by the Father to be his emissary, his servant, looks out on the subjects he was sent to bring home to his Father.  In just a few hours an entire life is drained on a cross.  Humanly speaking, drained of all potential success, Jesus was about to become the shining light of the "Servant Song" not just for Israel but for all the lands and nations.  For just a moment put yourself in the sandals of anyone of the onlookers atop Mount Calvary on that Friday afternoon.  Could you believe at that moment in time that very soon what you see as failure will be the most remarkable change?  Would you have thought of resurrection and redemption?

In his mind Jesus knew that he was in the final moment of his mission, his fulfilling of the Father's will.  Surely this should be the thought that captures most of our thinking during these final days of Lent:  Jesus is bringing to our realization the tremendous love of God the Father not only for himself but for each of us.  Jesus is the salt of the earth for the Father.  He is the light for the entire world.  Because I know that I was forever in the mind of God, I know, too, that I am called as a child of God, as brother of Jesus, to be salt and light to my time in history.  Don't think of Jesus just hanging there on that cross.  Recall that he is speaking out to you and me words not only of forgiveness but words of mission, words of responsibility.  You, that is you and I, we are called to be salt and light to our families, our communities ... indeed, to our world.  Do you think this is exaggeration?  Wasn't there a Mother Theresa?  Wasn't there a Pope John XXIII?  Wasn't there a Maximilian Kolbe?  Yes, God chooses ordinary people like you and me to be what he was to people.  We are called to continue his mission is suffering and in service to others.