Holy Week–Day 37

Today’s readings and prayer of the day are:
Isaiah 50:4-9a
Psalm 70 (1)
Hebrews 12:1-3
John 13:21-32

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, your Son our Savior suffered at human hands and endured the shame of the cross. Grant that we may walk in the way of his cross and find it the way of life and peace, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation
May I never boast of | anything
except the cross of our Lord | Jesus Christ. (Gal. 6:14)

Yesterday the church flooded again in this strange Lent of rains, unusual, the weather folks tell us, for this time of year. We pumped, we swabbed, we pumped again, and finally the downstairs is damp, but not wet. The water has ebbed. We’re hoping for beautiful weather for Easter.

The passage from Isaiah today is the third of the Servant Songs. It is a repetition of the Passion Sunday reading, a beautiful rendition of Isaiah’s understanding of God’s word in our ear. Isaiah wants to speak to human suffering, and invites us to identify with the suffering servant. As I’ve said earlier on, the identity of the servant is much debated. But we are always invited into the words, to meditate and pray with them.

One of the words we use for teaching discipleship is catechesis, from which we get the word catechism. It means, to echo in the ear, to hear in the ear. Such hearing is sometimes portrayed in art as a thin red thread descending from heaven into the ear of the hearer, and down to the heart. In representations of the Annunciation, the thin red thread goes all the way to Mary’s womb. The idea is that we hear God’s Word with our ears and hearts both, and that Word becomes new life in us, it bears new life in us.

The other issue, for Luther, about hearing, is that it is passive. You receive a sound, and if you were to block it, you’d have to do something, close your ears deliberately with your hands, or block them with earplugs. You’d have to take steps to stop hearing something. Faith is a receptive capacity, for Luther, and is born in us by the action of God’s word in us. It’s a beautiful image, really, of a word spoken for all time, coming to us all the time, resonating in us from God, a word that wakens us morning by morning, that teaches, shapes, and saves us.

Jesus said to his disciples during the Last Supper: abide in my Word. May the Word abide in you, dwell in you, these last few days of Lent, and carry you with joy into Easter.

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