March 19, 2024 at 10:17 a.m.

Let us all sing the song of the servant!

WORD OF FAITH: A breakdown of each week's upcoming Sunday readings to better understand the Word of God at Mass.
WORD OF FAITH: A breakdown of each week's upcoming Sunday readings to better understand the Word of God at Mass.

By Father Anthony Ligato | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

What song shall we sing for the Lord? Shall we sing the song of the servant? This is the decision the people who greeted Jesus on his triumphal entry into Jerusalem had to make. They decided to sing the song of the suffering servant, “those preceding him as well as those following kept crying out: Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:1-10)

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!”

 — Philippians 2:8

From the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we come to Jesus’ passion and the song we will sing is one of the suffering servant on the cross. “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pluck my beard: my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:4-7) This passage from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is the third of fourth suffering servant songs. This suffering servant suffers on our behalf so that we do not have to suffer any longer ourselves.

The narrative Passion of Our Lord (Mark 14:1-15:47) depicts for us the Son of Man, the suffering servant who lays down his life in full submission to the Father’s will for the Son. “Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, sit here while I pray. He said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.’ ” (Mk 14:32,36) Jesus sings a song of despair and suffering. The song of despair reveals for us a theme that is woven through the entire Gospel of Mark, the humanity of Jesus reveals his divinity as the Son of God. The song of the servant the crowd sang when Jesus triumphally entered Jerusalem would turn into shouts of derision, they no longer waved palm branches, now they spat upon Jesus. “Some began to spit on him. They blindfolded him and struck him, and said to him, ‘Prophesy!’ And the guards greeted him with blows.” (Mk 14:65) Just as the people of Israel rejected the prophets who foretold the coming of the Son of Man, now in their words and actions they are rejecting the Son of Man himself, Jesus Christ.

When Jesus is brought to Pilate, another song is sung, a song of crucifixion. The song of crucifixion will fulfill the words the prophets had foretold. “Pilate said to them in reply, then what do you want me to do with this man you call the king of the Jews? They shouted again, ‘Crucify him.’ ” (Mk 15:12-13) As Jesus was led to his crucifixion he was mocked by the guards and crowds and once he was crucified their words of derision continued. But Jesus himself would sing the final song of an obedient Son and servant, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These words are an echo of Psalm 22 on Passion Sunday. The psalm, as well as the cry of Jesus, is a lament of the innocent who are suffering from persecution. The song of the servant was not silenced, it was brought to its great crescendo, the redemption of humanity!

The early Christian community witnessed to their own faith by singing the song of the Servant of God who was obedient unto death on the cross. What song shall we sing?

The witness of faith proclaimed in the Scriptures can help us know the song we are called to sing. The crowds in Jerusalem did not know where Jesus was being led nor did they know where they were being led, but they had to trust as Jesus trusted in the Father’s plan. We may not know where we are going to be led, but we do know if we are willing to trust as our Lord trusted, we will give glory to God by our faithful witness.

And just as Isaiah sang a song of suffering Israel, it was not a song of suffering but rather a song of joy. As Isaiah said, “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” (Is. 50:7). The suffering servant sings a song of courage as did the early Christian community and we too are to sing a song of courage and faith. This is the song we sing, the song of the servant!


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