Today's readings were Isaiah 50:4-7, Philippians 2:6-11 and Luke 22:14-23:56 for the first reading,second reading and the gospel respectively.
In the first reading,the prophet Isaiah tells the Israelites of the blessings he has received from God. He tells them of the blessed tongue he has to preach to them and especially to the broken to awaken their spirits. He tells them how God speaks to him and how he has been obedient to God's word,and finally he tells them of the suffering he has endured from his oppressors but of how he has kept his hope and trust in God because God will not forsake him.
Isaiah by telling this to the Israelites was trying to build their hope and encourage them.Using himself as an example,he came with a word from God every day for them and told them of the persecutions he had suffered. He also made sure to emphasize to them that in all of the trouble he received, not once did he retaliate or seek revenge because God is his help. And because God is his help, he knows he will not be shamed or disgraced. Isaiah used his troubles and his steadfastness to show the people that they too, could be strong and rely on God for he will always be there for them.
In the second reading,Paul talks to the Philippians about Jesus Christ,telling them that though Christ was from God, he did not see equality with God as something to be grasped but instead emptied himself,taking the form of a slave and coming in human form. In human form, he humbled himself and was obedient to God even in death and God exalted him and bestowed a name that is greater than all names, the name Jesus because of that so that at the mention of it, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Paul was trying to explain the miracle that is Jesus to the Philippians and that message is very much for you and i in today's world.Jesus came from God and could have easily considered himself superior too, as one in equality with God but he didn't. Instead, he chose to come as the son of God,in the flesh,to live like human and be vulnerable to death. He obeyed God his father and that is why God exalted him and gave him a name that we would for ever bow down too and proclaim because it is because of that name that we have salvation today.
The gospel was the narrative by Luke of the passion of The Christ.It was from the time that Jesus had the last supper at the table with his disciples and told them of his betrayal by one of them, to the time Jesus went to Mount Olives to pray, to the period when Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, to when Jesus was handed over to Pilate and he sent him to Herod and back, to the time when the people favored Barabbas a murderer and thief to Jesus,to when his garment was torn and he carried his cross, to when he was crucified with two other thieves on Calvary to the end when he breathe his last breath.
In the gospel, we see Jesus living his last hours before death, knowing that someone will betray him. I found it amazing that Jesus was fully aware that one of his disciples was going to betray him, and knowing fully well the punishment that awaited him for no crime that he committed, he still stayed. He went about his normal routine of putting others before himself and went to Mount Olives to pray for the task that he knew he must do, SURRENDER on the cross for us.
Paul in the second reading makes us aware of Jesus' humanity which is still very unlike ours, for how many of us would know that we could be in equality with our superiors and yet shun it, choosing instead to be servant and take instructions and obey. The humanity of Jesus that Paul tells us in the second reading is what is being fulfilled in the gospel.
Christ endured suffering, pain, hurt and betrayal like we all do in our daily lives.That was the human side of Jesus. He came to show us that he knows what it is like to be human, to live in a world filled with hate, envy,jealousy,abandon,disregard and commotion.He came to show us that even our closest confidants would deny us in the moment when we need them most as Simon Peter denied him. He came to show us that this world is a lonely place.
But as much as Jesus Christ came to show us all of those things, he mostly came to show us how to be Christ-like and God-like. Because despite the foreknowledge of his betrayal,his suffering and pain, his desolation by one of his closest disciples, Jesus in the gospel shows us how to forgive, how to love, how to serve and put others first but importantly, to pray always even in our most desperate and desolate moments.
This coming week is the Holy week. Let us take Isaiah's encouragement to us for all the trials we might be facing in our lives, knowing that God will never let us be disgraced or shame.But especially during this Holy week, let us live by Christ examples of putting other people first before ourselves. Let us see the needs that have to met in our communities and help our neighbors. Your neighbor is not just the person who lives next to you but that stranger whom you meet that is in need of lunch, and you forgo yours to him to feed him. Your neighbor is anybody we come across and to whom we have a duty as Christians to live by example and reaching out to them.
Once again, we go back to the phrase ambassadors of Christ.We have to be ambassadors of Christ and we are known by our actions not words. Be kind to someone this week and make a difference in someone's life this week. Be Christ-like, quick to forgive,slow to anger,passionate in love and care,restoring peace,serving both our superiors and juniors and especially, PRAYERFUL.
Have a blessed week ahead and may God continue to watch over you and me.