Lectionary Reflection for October 21, 2012: The Suffering Servant

Lectionary Readings:

  • Isaiah 53:10-11. “Through his suffering my servant shall justify many and their guilt he shall bear.”
  • Hebrews 4:14-16. Jesus, our high priest, is one who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, as he has experienced all our temptations, without sinning.”
  • Mark 10:35-45. Whoever wants to rank first must serve the needs of all. “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve…”

Thoughts for your consideration:

In the readings that our Church shares with us this week we ponder the concepts of the suffering servant and servant leadership. In the first two readings we hear how the divine plan for our salvation will be carried out by the role of the suffering servant. The prophet Isaiah describes for us this role while the epistle to the Hebrews demonstrates how Jesus performed this role. In the Gospel we are told about the grand petition of leadership that James and John request upon Jesus. Jesus responds by describing the humbling role of servant leadership. He offers his disciples a new paradigm of leadership that is identifiable in how they are serving the needs of all. His responds to their request with a “careful what you ask for” tone.

In all these readings the message that we get is that the role of the Christian is tied to an ethic of compassion and solidarity with the suffering that our human community experiences. Salvation comes to us through the incarnation of a God that can “sympathize with our weakness” and who experiences all the temptations and struggles that we face. Jesus experiences our most intense suffering and he saves us by bringing redemption to our own suffering which can often times feel meaningless. Our suffering can cause us to feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but scripture reminds us that God is with us and Jesus shares in our suffering. But Jesus invites us to share in that salvific ministry. The disciples are glorified only insofar as they can serve the suffering community and journey with all of God’s people who are isolated, vulnerable and marginalized. In serving the needs of all we are called to advocate for truth and justice and thus redeeming the experience of suffering and injustice that we see in our community.

This is the message in today’s readings.  Pope Benedict XVI reminds us how the wisdom of our tradition continues to speak to this message in his Encyclical “Spe Salvi:”

To suffer with the other and for others; to suffer for the sake of truth and justice; to suffer out of love and in order to become a person who truly loves—these are fundamental elements of humanity, and to abandon them would destroy man himself… The Christian faith has shown us that truth, justice and love are not simply ideals, but enormously weighty realities. It has shown us that God —Truth and Love in person—desired to suffer for us and with us. #39

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About jdgonzo73

I am a Catholic lay minister in the field of Christian ethics, Latino theology and Paulacrucian spirituality. I am currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Fordham, an ad-junct professor at Molloy College and St. John's University and the Project Coordinator with the Catholic Roundtable.
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