Isaiah 50:4-7: Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14 - 23:56
In today's world there is suffering everywhere, especially on our TV screens, and we have learned to close our senses to most of it. Our hearts remain unmoved by all but the tiny proportion which occasionally manages to get under our guard.
Isaiah, the prophet, on the other hand, describes a disciple who listens each day to the lessons of pain so that he can speak words of consolation and encouragement to those whose faith is flagging and whose spirits grow weary.
He speaks in the person of one who suffers willingly, not turning away, not resisting, because he has utter faith in the saving love of God. This person is not Isaiah himself and therefore we see in these words the Saviour, Jesus, who suffers for our salvation.
For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle. The Lord comes to my help, so that I am untouched by the insults. So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed.
Hebrews 2:10 further tells us: As it was his purpose to bring a great many of his sons into glory, it was appropriate that God, for whom everything exists and through whom everything exists, should make perfect, through suffering, the leader who would take them to their salvation.
We are advised by the saints that there is nothing more useful to our spiritual progress than meditation on the Passion of Jesus. When we do this we come to understand the love he has for us and we find our love kindled in return.
A deep, true, transforming love of God is the fruit of regular meditation on the Passion.
The Passion Readings from Luke put before us the sufferings of the man Jesus who is also our Lord and our God. As a man Jesus allows himself to experience all the sufferings that should be ours because of our sins. He allows the awfulness of our sins to fall upon him. It can truly be said that in Jesus, God suffers for love of us.
- At the Last Supper he gives himself completely to us.
- He takes his Apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane and begins his Passion … they fall asleep.
- Judas arrives, one of his chosen Twelve, and betrays him.
- The disciples, his special friends, run away.
- Peter, his chosen leader of the Apostles, denies him three times.
- The religious leaders oppose him and seek to kill him.
- Those who come to apprehend him come for him as though he were a robber .. they do a surprise “swoop”, binding him with ropes and chains, dragging him to the High priest.
- He is paraded before the gentile ruler (the State) as a common criminal and mocked, spat upon, struck and humiliated.
- He was flogged for crimes he didn’t commit; though totally innocent of any wrongdoing he was punished.
- A convicted murderer, Barabbas, was preferred to him by the very people to whom he had brought truth and healing.
- He was crucified between two thieves.
Jesus’ soul must have grown darker and darker and yet he continued to love us, and trust in his Father's love.
Father, forgive them.
Into your hands I commit my spirit.
Finally Jesus experienced the full effects of sin, a punishment whose awfulness we cannot begin to imagine, even though he was innocent - he felt even the abandonment of his Father who turned his face away from his Son (from Padre Pio's reflections on the Passion). This is the final effect our sins have on God.