As we liturgically commemorate the passion and death of Jesus this Holy Week, we will hear proclaimed all four Songs of the Suffering Servant as revealed in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah.
On Monday of Holy Week, we prayed with the 1st Servant Song in Isaiah 42:
Here is my Servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
Not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
Until he establishes justice on the earth;
On Passion Sunday, and again tomorrow on Wednesday of Holy Week, we hear the 3rd Servant Song from Isaiah 50:
The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
Todayâ€™s first reading for Tuesday of Holy Week is the 2nd Servant Song from Isaiah 49.
The Church uses these Old Testament passages to show us the meaning of Christâ€™s suffering and to invite us to see Christ in the suffering of others and to imitate Christ in our lives. Here in its entirety is todayâ€™s 2nd Suffering Servant Song:
Hear me, O islands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The Lord called me from birth,
from my motherâ€™s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my Servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the Lord,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the Lord has spoken
who formed me as his Servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
And I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my Servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
On Good Friday, the profundity of the 4th Song in Isaiah 52 will set the liturgical stage for the Churchâ€™s adoration of the cross.
Perhaps it would be good to pick up our bibles or missalettes and prayerfully sit with God revealed to the Church, both in the Songs of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 42, 49, 50, and 52 and in the sufferings of Godâ€™s people.
God bless you in your communal and private prayer this week.
Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.