Saturday, April 12, 2014

Suffering Servant

From the Hermitage

A Sunday of Palms

Dear Friends,

The words of Isaiah in the first reading may well help us more easily open our hearts to one of the passages known to Scripture scholars as a Servant Song.  In this Isaiah text we are brought to focus on the "Suffering Servant."

Isaiah endeavors to teach that the mission of a servant is to suffer on behalf of others.  The servant is clear:  because he was bent on obeying what Yahweh expected of him, he was humiliated,  insulted and beaten.

I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my fact I did not shield from buffets and spittings."
(Is. 50:5)

Have you ever stopped to ask why this or any servant need to endure this kind of treatment?  "Why?" you might ask.  "Why would God need to have such pain inflicted upon the servant."  We do believe our God is not vengeful.   How many times in the bible have we read that our God is "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (Psalm 148:8).

This Suffering Servant story could easily be seen as negative but in the bible God is always faithful, a notion, please note that God never tires or back away from relationships of giving time and again.  A recognized scholar, Professor Jurgen Boltmann, found through his prayer that "God is the same God all the way from promise to fulfillments" (Theology of Hope, 112-120, 143-148).  God never stops loving us (Hendrikus Berkhop, Christian Faith, 128).

But what if the prophet was writing in fact about Jesus Christ -- who live more than half a century before Jesus?  Is Jesus the scapegoat to bear the anger of God for our sins?

What we are actually confronting in the suffering of Jesus?  It is, in fact, a part of the mystery we call faith (our personal relationshiop with God).    It is the God who never ceases to give us his love and is the same God who suffers greatly for us in the Passion.

Oremus pro invicem,

Fr. Milt