Monday in Holy Week
I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
[Isaiah 42:6-7 New Revised Standard Version]
And so begins Holy Week, when we focus on the last days of Jesus’ earthly life.
In the reading from the prophet Isaiah we are introduced to God’s “servant”, commonly now known as “the suffering servant.” We will read the rest of the servant readings throughout this week. We will also hear this reading in combination with the Baptism of our Lord next January.
This reading begins to outline the “Servant’s” mission. You will hear strains of this same theme later in Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…” You may recall that is also the chapter from which Jesus read in the synagogue in the Gospel according to Luke [Luke 4:16-19].
This was the mission Jesus was given in this life; to be a “covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”
It was a mission of struggle, of suffering, of death, but a death that ultimately results in victory by his resurrection.
And because of Christ’s fulfillment of his mission, we are freed from the captivity of sin. Make no mistake, we are still sinners, but because of Jesus’ and his death on the cross, we need not wallow in our sinfulness. We are freed in Christ, to love and to serve the Lord.
Then what is it that God asks of us? The 16th Century mystic, Teresa of Ávila, put it in poetic form. This is a call to the church today, to you, the body of Christ:
“Christ has no body now, but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Yours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Yours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.”
May we always be mindful that Christ is present with us in our efforts to live out the promise to grow in faith, love and obedience to the will of God.