Tuesday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 49:1-6; John 13:21-33.36-38)
The liturgies of Holy Week feature the four sections of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah known as the “Servant Songs.” A part of the third song was presented at mass on Sunday, the first song yesterday, and the second song today. Tomorrow the whole third song will be heard and in Friday’s service, the fourth. Many Jews see the nation of Israel, which has suffered dreadful persecutions through the centuries, as the celebrated “Suffering Servant.” But with no less reason Christians see the Servant as a prototype of Jesus, who lays down his life for others.
Today’s second song tells of how the Servant, like Jesus, is named in his mother’s womb. He is called to bring Judah and Israel back together as Jesus chose twelve apostles to reunite the twelve tribes of Israel. The prophecy that the Servant is a “sharp-edged sword” anticipates Jesus’ preaching dividing the people not along tribal, national, or racial lines but according to who accept him as God’s definitive revelation and who find his words too challenging to follow. Finally, as the Servant’s authority is not to be confined to Israel but will become a light to all nations so have Jesus’ teachings enlightened the world.
The Servant Songs reveal God’s mysterious plan of salvation. God does not bring the world together by force of arms or even through a universal philosophy. Rather He spreads His fatherly love to all humanity through the preaching of Jesus Christ. We accept God’s plan by letting go of a corrupt desire to dominate others and by foregoing the frivolous count of how many countries have a Catholic majority. No, it is giving of ourselves daily in loving obedience to the Lord that we become part of God’s plan.