Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I am your servant

Isaiah the Prophet
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother's womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,

and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
Isaiah 49

The Gospel is compelling today - no doubt about it.  It's about betrayal and hope, and fortitude of Christ to finish what must be done.  But it's the first reading from today's Mass that grabs my heart.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a big-mouthed, big-hearted Irish girl who doesn't like to to be wrong, and doesn't want to take "no" when "yes" is the only acceptable answer.  This doesn't always serve me well, but in terms of raising my kids - all of whom have special needs and challenges - it's been a blessing.  I had to be the "polished arrow" in their lives, a two-edged sword to make sure they got, and get, exactly what they need.

Unfortunately, it often seems in vain.  You know that feeling, don't you:  "I've done everything right, Jesus!  Why is everything so very wrong??"  We want a reward, even if it's only pat on the back or an acknowledgement of hard we've worked.  We've done all the right stuff, and all the wrong stuff lays at our feet.  We've toiled, as Isaiah says, seemingly in vain.

But read just one more line:  "My reward is with the Lord."  Waiting for the pat on the back?  You'll get it;  just not in this world.  Waiting to see how all your hard work, all your swinging of the sword plays out?  Okay, just be patient.

I know that's not the answer we want, but there is such a huge promise here.  Remember that Gospel story, in Matthew?  His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’ 

Holy Week is hard, but we do not toil in vain.  Let us hope that on Easter Sunday, we can celebrate with the true joy of good and faithful servants, having spent our strength to be with Christ richly in prayer and sacrifice this week.

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