The First Reading today, the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, comes from the prophet Isaiah.
It is a reading familiar from Holy Week, a reading that is seen to anticipate the Passion of Jesus. This Sunday we hear it as preparation for the Gospel which contains the first ‘Passion Prediction’ of Mark’s Gospel – a prediction which Peter the apostle is unwilling to receive and accept, and which – Mark’s Gospel carefully and starkly shows us – the other disciples fail to deal with either.
The Lord has opened my ear.
For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.
The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.
My vindicator is here at hand. Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.
The Lord is coming to my help, who will dare to condemn me?
When we hear the voice of the Lord prefigured in the words of the prophet we are drawn into a moving anticipation of what Jesus would endure.
The passivity of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel is notable. From the moment of his arrest, Jesus is not the subject of an active verb in Mark’s narrative. Jesus has become an object, handled and ultimately disposed of by others. It is his choice to be victim, of course. He chooses to endure faithful in love. His love of God, neighbour and self brings about a moral triumph, and achieves victory,over evil, over death, restoring life and love and for always. The resurrection is its demonstration and its guarantee.
And all this for us.
- What is it about us that God so loves and cares for?
Photograph is detail of the Crucifix in the church of Nowa Huta, Cracow. © 2013, Allen Morris.