Date: Sunday September 13, 2009 - 24th Sunday Ordinary Time
Readings: Isaiah 50:5-9 Psalm 116: 1-9
James 2:14-18 Mark 8:27-35
Every time I hear the term, "Suffering Servant", my mind immediately pictures Jesus in an attitude of unbelievable pain on the cross.
Christ had been curing people of various ills in the gentile regions of Palestine.
Jesus was a Jew; however, He took seriously, a Jew's obligation to love one's neighbor as oneself. (Lv. 19:18).
We read Isaiah's suffering servant oracles and assume he's predicting the future distress for Jesus. In reality, Isaiah had no concept of the future, and, in fact, was addressing the Israel, in exile, living in captivity in Babylon, as the suffering servant. The people of Babylon weren't very hospitable to these immigrants. After all, there were only enough jobs around to satisfy the needs of the Babylonians. They didn't need immigrants from across the Euphrates to take away their birthright.
Matthew and Luke repeat Mark's story of Jesus asking His disciples," Who do the people say I am?" When Pete responded, "You are the Christ, the Messiah", we attach attributes to his declaration , far from Peter's mind. The disciples, including Peter, used "Messiah" and Christ as synonyms for someone who would rid the people of the Roman conquerors. When Jesus declared His eventual suffering and death, Pete naturally, was taken aback. He thought, "If you die, what happens to the revolt?" Jesus wasn't anxious to die either! However, He was aware of the tremendous outpouring of the Father's love for His people. Therefore, He willingly accepted the task of emptying Himself of all glory and death on the cross, as His gift of Love.
We have an opportunity, every day, as the Body of Christ, to make up for anything which may be lacking in Christ's ultimate sacrifice.
St. James gives us the blueprint. Our Faith is empty without love of neighbor. We manifest our Christian heritage when we clothe, feed, and shelter those in need (our neighbors). Whether we fulfill their need physically, by alms, psychologically, by our show of care and commitment, or, spiritually, by our prayer, we give what we have for the sake of those God loves.