Naturally, our Gospel Readings throughout this week centre on the events leading up to, and including, Jesus’ death on the Cross: his entry into Jerusalem; the plot against him; and the betrayal of Judas. In our First Readings, however, we meet the mysterious figure of the “Suffering Servant” found in four ‘songs’ in the second part of the Book of Isaiah. We hear the third of the songs at Mass on Palm Sunday and then, in proper order, numbers one, two and three from Monday to Wednesday. Finally, at the service on Good Friday we hear the fourth song where the Servant suffers complete humiliation and death.
Who is this “suffering servant”? Perhaps it is Israel itself, suffering in exile in Babylon when Isaiah is writing the songs. Certainly, Christians have always seen that Servant personified in Jesus himself, and especially in these events of Holy Week.
Palm Sunday – Is. 50:4-7
Speaking in the first person the Servant talks about listening and speaking like a disciple. A disciple is an apprentice, learning his/her trade from the master craftsman. The goal of such listening and speaking is always. “to know how to reply to the wearied”. God knows people are “wearied” in these days when we are confined largely to our own homes, and even just one room for some people. We are warned that worse news is to come, but that if we persevere in what we are being asked to do by those in authority, then we can get through this time. Listening carefully to God’s Word and then speaking the words of comfort we find there to the weary and the frightened has never been more important.