April 14, 2017
The Responsorial (Psalm 31) expresses the choice our whole lives should lead to: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” The readings show us the faith, hope and love we need to do it.
Both Isaiah 52:13 to 53:12 and Hebrews 4:14 to 5:9 are reflections on the Passion Narrative, John 18:1 to 19:42. Isaiah looks ahead to it; Hebrews looks back on it. Both are meditations.
Isaiah tells us Jesus’ life had value “because he surrendered himself to death.” The same is true of ours. By “dying” in Baptism to everything life on this earth offers and promises, we entered into Life. But we have to live out that death.
In this fourth and last “Song of the Servant,” Isaiah says the life of Jesus and his followers is shocking. He says, “Who would believe...?” People will be “amazed,” “startled,” turned off. “There was in him no… appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided... We held him in no esteem.” But read Isaiah’s text and then Psalm 31. The way God used and rewarded Christ’s life leads us to say, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Hebrews tells us why we no longer hold Jesus “in no esteem.” He is our lifeline to God and beatitude, “Jacob’s ladder,” connecting heaven to earth.
Hebrews invites us to reflect on what Jesus is as “priest.” Jesus is the “connector.” The bridge. He is not just a third-party mediator or intercessor, standing between us and the Father. Through Jesus we are connected to the Father. He mediates God’ s life to us by bringing us into God and God into us. He intercedes for us from within our hearts. He doesn’t just pray for us, he prays as us, and we pray as him. Through our identification with him by Baptism we are “priests in the Priest.”
Even psychologically, we can “connect” with Jesus because he is not “unable to sympathize with our weakness.” He was “tempted in every way that we are.” The bottom of the ladder is stuck in our earth. We can get our feet on it.
On earth, when Jesus was “in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears” — just like us. And he “learned obedience from what he suffered.” But now that he is “made perfect,” he has become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
The top of the ladder is in heaven. Jesus is “a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” Jesus connects us to God.
Obedience is the key. Jesus was “made perfect” in obedience to the Father. We are made perfect by obeying the Father ”through him, with him and in him” in obedience to Jesus as members of his body subject to our Head. In life and in death we say in union with him: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
Now read the Passion Narrative.
Initiative: Spend your life saying, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”