Suffering Servant of the Lord – Spy Wednesday
There are four “Songs of the Suffering Servant of the Lord”. These are poems that have been gathered together in the second part of the Book of Isaiah. They describe the mission of the servant and vacillate between the voice of the prophet and the voice of God. Early Christians associated these poems with the person of Christ. They can be helpful to penetrate the Paschal mystery we are celebrating during the Holy Triduum.
“Spy Wednesday” is so called because it is associated with the betrayal of Judas. Although not part of the Triduum, it is a good moment to take stock of personal attitudes and prepare for the contemplation of the mysteries of the Passion of Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.
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Spy Wednesday feels a little bit like the beginning of a long race. The work is about to start. It is important to limber up and get ready for the long race, which is the Paschal Triduum. Each day requires its own effort. Spy Wednesday is a day to get ready. Plan out how you are going to use the days of the Holy Triduum to contemplate the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Each day, it is good to take one of the poems and contemplate the characteristics of the Suffering Servant of the Lord. First, contemplate them as belonging to the prophet. Then, apply them to Christ in order to enter into the contemplation of the Paschal mystery. Finally, look for their presence in your life, so they help you become more perfectly identified with the Cross of Christ.
First Song, 42:1-9
Sustained by the Lord
The servant of the Lord is sustained by the Lord. This comes about from prayer, communion with God, and trust in him. Prayer establishes a relationship between man and God. The beginning of the poem is in the voice of God and belies a deep sense of relation between God and the servant. Communion refers to the sense of unity between man as creation and God as creator. There is a relation of causality. Without God, man would cease to exist.
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Meekness is a forgotten and under-valued virtue. Meekness is not being a pushover or a doormat, but rather possessing the interior strength to not put one’s faith in the external appreciation of other people’s praise. In the movie Cinderella Man, the boxer James Braddock shows a great internal strength, while not being boastful or arrogant on the outside. While preparing for his bout against Max Baier, he is interviewed by a group of reporters. When they ask him why he is fighting, he answers that he is fighting for milk. His family has suffered greatly in the Great Depression and he just wants to make sure his family is together and fed. James Braddock shows that humility can come out in a lot of different situations. Reflecting on a more “worldly” example can help us see how to live it out in our own lives. He had interior strength and was not focused on praise. The prophet Isaiah likewise lived according to his own moral compass, oblivious to the praise or disparagement of earthly rulers. Christ carried out the Father’s plan, without worrying about the High Priest and Pilate.
The servant has a mission to live. He knows that to be just is to “give to each what is his own”. He is called to establish justice. Looking out at the world gives lots of opportunities to see manifestations of injustice. The effort to make life a little more fair for those around is the work of a prophet.
Ready to serve
The prophetic mission is received to serve others, not himself. Often, we ask for God’s blessings to get a leg up in the world. But often, the gifts of God are to be coming through us to bless others. The image here is that Isaiah is called to be a “light to the nations”. This is something we are also called to be: witnesses of God’s love to the world around us.
Gives glory to God
It is easy to turn into ourselves and get lost in our good qualities. We like to think of ourselves as the source of everything good that comes in our lives. But, it is always grace at work. This should inspire us to give thanks to God for his abundant blessings.
Questions for reflection
How did the prophet Isaiah experience what is described in this poem?
How did Christ model the behaviors described in this poem?
How can you put this into practice in your life?