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THE SUFFERING SERVANT OF THE LORD
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, Holy Week, March 30, 2015
Isa. 42:1-7, Ps. 26, John 12:1-11


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations" (Isa. 42:1).


This is the first Suffering Servant song, a messianic prophecy that has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This Servant is the Savior of the world. He is far more than just a prophet. He himself is God's covenant and light. No mere prophet was this. "I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations" (Isa. 42:6). His job will be to "bring forth justice to the nations" (Isa. 42:1). "He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth" (Isa. 42:3-4). What prophet ever did that?


God's justice is his salvation, whereby he makes us just and righteous in his sight, as we see in Isaiah 61:10, where God's righteousness or justice and salvation are spoken of as being two words for the same thing: "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness."


These prophecies were finally fulfilled when God's justice or salvation was revealed and given to us by Jesus Christ by his death on the cross, through our faith in him. This justifying justice of God that makes us righteous and just and saves us is revealed in the gospel. St. Paul says, "I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live'" (Rom. 1:16-17).


This justice of God is not his justice by which he himself is just, but rather his justice by which he makes us just and righteous, by which he justifies us through the death of Christ, which makes reparation for our sins. This justification takes place in us when we believe in Christ and entrust ourselves to him in faith for our salvation.


This salvation is in the cross of Christ, and it is also in the gospel that proclaims this salvation, this justification. Those who believe in the gospel are saved from their sins and given a new life, are made righteous and just, are justified by the death of Christ. They are justified through their faith, not by their own works (Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 2:16).


The gospel is the announcement, the proclamation, about this salvation, this gift of justice that saves us, that makes us just and righteous, that justifies us. When anyone accepts with faith this announcement of salvation in the cross, he is justified and made righteous by the merits of Christ's death that are then communicated to him.


This is the justice that the Suffering Servant will bring forth to the nations. "He will bring forth justice to the nations" (Isa. 42:1). The job of this Servant in bringing justice to the nations is "to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness" (Isa. 42:7). Christ, by his gift of justification, frees us from the darkness of sin and guilt, gives us liberty of spirit, a pure heart, and illuminates us from within that we might walk with him in the light in joy of heart.

 

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