In the first reading (Isaiah 50:4-7) the prophet is lyrical about his own experience, He has faithfully heeded and delivered God’s word, but it is met with rejection and physical abuse,. Yet he has faith that all will be well in the end. His words are easily applied to Jesus’ life and are appropriate at this season of the Liturgical year. Because God is ‘a stable character’ people are treated in basically the same way by Him in whatever century, though differently according to their circumstances and response; in this way the suffering but faithful life of a past individual, like Isaiah, can be seen as a foretelling of how God deals especially in His Incarnate Son, Jesus, but also with us in our corporate and individual lives. The responsorial psalm shows the same pattern and personal anguish and hope.
The second reading (Philippians 2:6-11) is part of a hymn expressing Christian belief about the Divinity of Jesus. It is difficult to translate the words used to describe this enormous mystery. So the phrase “being in the form of God” (King James Version) is quite a literal translation of the original Greek, but our understanding of the Incarnation is better expressed as “His state was divine”( Jerusalem Bible); it is interesting to look at various translations of this opening phrase. The hymn that this reading is part of, goes on to say that Christ took on human life and became like us; and this meant he was involved in and effected by all the messiness of human life and all the struggles and temptations it brings. But, as He held firm to his calling by the Father in the face of enormous difficulties, so we could expect to be elevated to be with God in glory if we hold to our call as Christians through the difficulties of our lives.
The Passion narrative in Matthew (selected from chapters 26f), generally follows that of Mark. In recent decades the Catholic Church has emphasised the resurrection and the element of joy and glory more than the trials that led up to it. Yet as well as this great message of hope and new life, it is almost reassuring to know that what leads to this is a life dedicated to the good of others and of the world, and this means a life subject to great disappointment and, for many, much suffering both emotional, psychological and physical. With this in mind we follow the story of the completion of Jesus’ life. Passion is not just suffering, Donald Senior points out, that passion is also a great enthusiasm for something you believe in – so each of us can consider, what is my passion?
See Jeffs Jottings – Deadly celebrations
On the left of this website under MONTH BY MONTH you can Select Month to see the notes on the readings for each Sunday in any past month.