Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34
The prophet who attends carefully to God, and has the gift for communicating what he or she hears, usually gets into trouble with some of the human community, but finally gets rescued by God. That’s the ironic message of today’s Servant Song. You can see why, for the early Christians, this passage leaped off the scroll as a picture of Jesus. The very gifts that awaked the faith, hope, and love of his followers (his total attentiveness to his Father, his gift for communicating the meaning of the coming Reign of the true King of the universe) are the same gifts that threatened the authority of some those who held the power in his day, and eventually got him executed by the Romans as a perceived enemy of the empire. We dwell on these things only because we know that the imperial judgment was reversed by a Higher Court in the verdict expressed in resurrection.
The passage from Matthew tells of a particular moment in Jesus’ living out his role as Servant of Yahweh. Knowing fully the human frailty of his inner circle, and the imminent betrayal of one of them, he continues to entrust himself to them. As we know from the rest of the passion and resurrection account, he can do this only because he entrusts himself so completely to the One who sent him.
We hear the Gospel differently, according to current the situation of our lives. Just now, what I am hearing is a call to pray for the grace to imitate Jesus’ trust in his Father. At a moment of heightened international distrust— between Palestinians and Israelis, between the U.S.A. and anyone who might be a terrorist or harbor one, between white folks and darker foreign-looking types— our major temptation is to invest our time and resources in building some kind of total defense system. And, yes, nature teaches us that any living thing needs some kind of defense strategies—camouflage feathers or skin coloring, warning cries, venom, ducking reflexes, an immune system, air travel security measures—but in the end, no community endures without trust, and the vulnerability that goes with trust. And any organism that specializes entirely in defense closes in on itself, becomes immobile, and dies. During this Holy Week we contemplate Jesus living out the truth that the fullness of life necessarily entails vulnerability. The incarnation itself was the greatest act of vulnerability ever. What we see this week is the consequence of that reality. Let us pray for a share in Jesus’ trust in his Father so that we can imitate his vulnerability and entrust ourselves to others as he did.
They say that washing your hands too much with antibacterial soap
can weaken your immune system.
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