Tuesday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 49:1-6; John 13:21-33.36-38)
Christians see Jesus in the gospels as a teacher, healer, and, ultimately, redeemer. Most underappreciate him for whom the gospel writers took him to be. They understand Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old Testament. He has the faith of Abraham, the devotion of David, and the wisdom of Solomon. He also fits the description of the Suffering Servant found in the second part of the Book of the Prophet Isaiah. During Holy Week the Church features the four songs or poetic passages that tell of this remarkable person.
Today’s first reading mentions that the Servant is named and formed in the womb. He is predestined to speak on God’s behalf. His work, however, seems barely noticed except by God who promises to make a light to all nations. The Suffering Servant may be compared to Cordelia in Shakespeare’s play King Lear. Cordelia speaks the truth in love to hear father when the foolish man wants her to lavish praise on him. For her discretion, the king banishes Cordelia, but in the end her virtue is vindicated. She dies prematurely as she brings the old king back to his senses.
Shakespeare intended Cordelia to be a figure of Christ as is the Suffering Servant. Both help us to understand the wonder of him who died cruelly that we might live eternally. Like Cordelia Christ always spoke the truth in love. Like the Suffering Servant Christ he has become the light revealing God’s love to all nations.