The First Reading on Sunday, the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time, came from the prophet Isaiah.
The ‘suffering servant’ of Isaiah anticipates the passion of the suffering master-servant that is Jesus the Christ. The reading exposes to us something of the inner life of Jesus. By the word The Word invites us to a deeper intimacy with himself.
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?
That, through the Incarnation, God should enter into such pain and suffering is extraordinary. It remains a stumbling block for many, who cannot conceive, cannot believe, what God through love achieves.
That God should do this not only for love of the world or humankind in some grand (and abstract) gesture, as demonstration of his ineffable glory, but for me and you in our too often shoddy, even absurd, particularity, is even more astonishing.
The first reading at Sunday Mass is selected because of a perceived relationship with the Gospel reading (itself selected, on the Sundays of Ordinary Time, on the principle of a semi-continuous reading of the Gospel of the Year.) This week the first reading, as it happens, has a close connection to the second reading, offering us the perfect instance of faithful love working for the good.
- What work of love might i stretch myself to fulfil today?
- What signs of God’s love for me can I discern today? And in the past days?
Cross, in cloisters of the Cathedral, Beziers, France. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.