We turn toward the readings from the Liturgy of the Passion, first to Isaiah’s witness to the Suffering Servant. Along with the psalm and epistle to follow, this reading works to shape our perception of the Passion narrative, and so we read with the suffering Christ in mind. Jesus fulfills the dynamic of today’s text. He is the faithful teacher who heard and proclaimed God’s word, and he suffered for it while believing in the One who would vindicate him. We’re grateful that Jesus walked this road before us, but the procession that he began doesn’t end. We’re called to join him.
What will that mean for you? Notice that our reading doesn’t say suffering is good. It is the tragic consequence of truth-telling. Therefore, let there be no exalting of suffering, especially that experienced by others. We admire the martyrs of the faith, but for today let us access the discussion at a lower intensity. We live amid chronic indignation. The church and culture are significantly divided, always ready to engage the latest controversy. We justify ourselves because we’re not one of the offensive others.
What if we decided to live as generously and hospitably as possible? It sounds simple, but remember that Jesus was continually criticized for the meal fellowship that stands in the midst of the Passion narrative and as the final word of the Lord’s Day liturgy. Generosity that eats with sinners will draw opposition. At the least it will cause us the discomfort of dealing with companions whom we did not choose. But God calls us to this pathway and blesses those who walk it.
Bless all our neighbors, O God, and help us live so that all may be one. Amen.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Psalm 118 is a song of rejoicing, yet it also includes the prophecy that the cornerstone must experience rejection. Isaiah speaks of physical suffering, of being beaten, disgraced, and spat on. We see elements of this in the Gospel reading, where Luke describes the final moments of Jesus’ life. Bloodied and beaten, Jesus hangs on the cross and breathes his last. In Philippians, Paul places this drama within the eternal narrative of God’s redeeming work. Jesus leaves his rightful place and becomes flesh. He experiences pain and suffering, even the most humiliating form of death, crucifixion. Jesus can empathize with our suffering because he has suffered. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. How does the Suffering Servant speak to your life today?
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How do you hear differently the familiar verses of this psalm when you read them together?
Read Philippians 2:5-11. Do you find it paradoxical to live as a beloved child of God and as a servant? If so, how do you live in this paradox?
Read Luke 22:14–23:56. How do you experience the extreme emotional highs and lows of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, even knowing how it will all turn out?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.