- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

April 7, 2020

Fr.  Justin Sheehan, OCSO

Tuesday of Holy Week

For the liturgy of the Word in Holy Week, the Church presents to us, one by one, each
of the four remarkable Servant Songs from the prophet Isaiah. The purpose is to bring
out the parallel between Jesus of Nazareth and the Servant of the Lord as portrayed in
these Songs.

By doing this, the Church is following the example of the Gospel narrative and the
language of the Evangelists, beginning with the Baptism of the Lord. On that
occasion, John the Baptist greeted Jesus with words which sum up the essence of the
Fourth Servant Song: Behold the Lamb of God, meaning Someone who takes away
the sins of the world. The first reading for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord is
taken from the First Servant Song, which we heard yesterday, and which begins, Here
is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I
have put my Spirit. Christ himself seems to have accepted this identification when he
opened his public ministry with the words, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.

To describe his first labors among the people, his disciples again used words from the
Fourth Servant Song, read on Good Friday, It was our infirmities that he bore.
Today’s reading of the Second Servant Song concludes with I will make you a light to
the nations, a phrase which will be echoed at the conclusion of the Exsultet: “Christ
your Son, who shed his peaceful light on humanity”.

When Christ predicted the Passion he was to undergo in Jerusalem, he fulfilled the
words of the Third Servant Song, which we’ll be hearing tomorrow: I gave my back to
those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not
shield from buffets and spitting. This kind of treatment was quite literally inflicted on
Jesus during his Passion.

And yet in the middle of Holy Week, the Church interrupts the sequence of the
Servant Songs on Holy Thursday, “the day before he was to suffer”. During the Last
Supper, Christ was anxious that his disciples not forget the countless ways in which
they too were called to be Servants of the Lord. So he washed the disciples’ feet, and
said to them, I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you
should also do. There are a thousand humble ways, coming out of the needs of
everyday life, in which we too are called to be gentle and self-forgetful Servants of
the Lord.

With this testimony from the liturgy and from the four Gospels, no one can doubt that
Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the prophecy, Here is my servant. May he in turn be able to
point to each one of us and say, “Here is my servant”.