In the Absence of the Human, the Divine is Revealed
April 11, 2017
Tuesday of Holy Week
Isaiah 49: 1-6 is the beginning of the second Song of the Servant. These songs portray the ideal Servant of God, the perfect Israelite, whose consecration to the divine will, even in the midst of overwhelming suffering, ‘takes away the sins of many.’
The Servant’s identity is complex:
The Servant is “Israel, alive in all of her great leaders and intercessors.... But the collective interpretation leads to an individual Servant of supreme holiness, greater than any single Israelite of the past.... It was Jesus who clearly identified himself as the Servant.... The Servant is both a collective personality and an individual messiah.
For practical purposes we can apply what is said about the Servant to Jesus, to Israel, to the Church, and to ourselves. Individually and collectively, we are all engaged in his mission, and we experience what he experiences in fulfilling it. Four points to keep in mind:
The Servant knows he was chosen “from my mother’s womb.” So do we — at least from the womb of Baptism. And Jesus. But he was tempted to doubt it, as we are.
He feels he has “toiled in vain and for nothing.” So did Jesus, who on the cross felt failure and abandonment. So do we.
He knows his “reward is with the Lord.” So did Jesus. In his human consciousness he did not know on the cross that he would rise from the dead. But like Abraham sacrificing Isaac, he believed, “hoping against hope,” that he was inexplicably saving the world and entering into his glory. We sometimes need to do the same.
In response to his discouragement, God extends his mission beyond Israel to include the whole earth: “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” When the pot is empty, throw a party! After Good Friday, Pentecost. “I will sing of your salvation.”
John 13: 21-38 shows us Jesus aware of betrayal and denial by two of his closest followers, and his response is to say, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him!” He knew things were out of his hands. He was to be delivered up. He had no human support. And he knew the Scriptural principle: In the absence of the human the divine is revealed, The Virgin Birth: the absence of a human father revealed the fatherhood of God. Sending his disciples without resources to show they relied on God. His present situation: the absence of all human support meant he was in the hands of God. If God was allowing his total abasement, God must be glorifying him. There was nothing more to do but surrender in joy: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” “I will sing of your salvation.”
Initiative: Find life in death, hope in despair, light in darkness, love in abandonment, power in weakness. In the absence of the human, rejoice in God.
 Jerome Biblical Commentary.
 See his temptations, beginning with “If...” Matthew 4:1-11; 27:39-46.
 Romans 4:18; John 12:23-28.
 Matthew 10:9-10.