Wellspring of Scripture


Year B: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading: Isaiah 50: 5-9

The reading chosen to complement the Gospel is part of one of the “Suffering Servant” songs that Isaiah composed about the one who was to come.


When the people of Jesus time looked for the Messiah, it was in the anticipation of the coming of the day of the Lord as described in last week’s First Reading: a time of opening eyes and ears and great jubilation. Although they would have known of these passages too, they preferred to focus more on the joy and liberation than on the prospect of suffering and death.


This is human nature and it is the trap into which Peter fell. For him, the Christ would a be a liberator and healer - great among the nations. This was the kind of Christ that others would follow. When Peter remonstrates with Jesus, he is probably only saying what others are thinking. People will follow powerful Christ spreading jubilation in his wake - to suggest any degree of unpleasantness - let alone suffering and death risk losing the opportunity to spread the Good News.


Jesus, however, has a clearer understanding of what Isaiah prophesied. He was not afraid to enter into the songs of the Suffering Servant and to make them his own. He would preach and heal - as the promises foretold - but his mission went far beyond that.


He was to enter into the worst of human experience without resistance - to stand defenceless before the worst that humankind could throw at him. He was to endure suffering and death with only the assurance that the Lord would vindicate him and that, despite all that would happen to him, he would not be shamed.


The prophecy was there in all its fullness - liberation and suffering. Isaiah and Jesus had the clear vision to see that the two went hand in hand. The disciples would need the events of the first Good Friday and Easter Sunday to begin to understand this.


What does it mean for me?

Waterlily How does Jesus fulfil the prophecy of the Suffering Servant?

What example does he offer to us in our own periods of adversity?

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