For God it’s personal, very personal. I used those words to begin my homily last week. They apply equally as well today.
There are many levels to understand Sacred Scripture. There is a historical context that must be taken into account. There is a style of literature itself. There is the theological significance. There is the continuity of Scripture passages being brought to fulfillment in light of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
There is also the personal interaction with Sacred Scripture where God speaks heart to heart with us; where we are immersed in the life-giving word of God who is speaking personally to us.
“The Lord said to me: you are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory.”
Today’s first reading is taken from the second of four poems in the book of Isaiah the prophet, traditionally referred to as “servant songs.” Each of these poems describes the mysterious servant that sometimes seems to be Isaiah himself and at other times, the community of Israel.
Whether describing Isaiah, the people of Israel, or an unnamed ideal servant of God, the portraits present someone intimately involved in God’s plan. Such a servant obediently fulfills the will of the master, the Lord God.
The historical context is the Babylonian captivity. The people of Israel are suffering greatly. They were exiled from their homeland. They were defeated. They were displaced refugees. Their covenant hopes were smashed.
The early Christian community and the Church Fathers saw the strong connection between the suffering servant and Jesus Christ, the true servant who gives his life to save not only Israel, but all of humanity. “John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’ He is the one!”
Again, multidimensional, the Lamb is understood as the Lamb of Passover whose blood on the door post preserved the life of the Hebrew families and brought them from slavery to freedom. It is also a symbol for the suffering servant of Isaiah who bore the sufferings of others, and was led like a lamb to the slaughter. (Isaiah 53:7, 11)
Historically and theologically the Jewish traditions contribute to an image of the Lamb as profoundly involved in the suffering of the people, offering its life for them. Jesus’ death on the cross will reveal him as the perfect Lamb of sacrifice, led silently to the slaughter, bringing John’s words to startling fulfillment.
“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. He is the one… This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
For God, it is personal, always very personal. God gives himself for us. God becomes human, one like us in all things but the one thing that does not define us from the beginning, sin. Jesus comes to show us who we truly are.
Therefore, Jesus is the one! He is the one. He is the one who walks with us and invites us into the deepest intimacy of his own relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
For God, it’s personal, always very personal.
I want to take you through simple prayer exercise using sacred Scripture is a very personal way of praying, of allowing God’s heart to speak to your heart.
Therefore I invite you to reflect on the sacred Scriptures by inserting your name when you hear the words me, you, my and I. Allow these words to be spoken to you, personally. Let them sink in to your being, to the depths of your soul.
You may want to close your eyes or focus on Jesus on the cross, whatever might be most helpful. Listen carefully and insert your name. Allow the Lord to speak to you personally.
“The Lord said to me…”
“You are my servant.”
“I, the Lord formed you as my servant from the womb.”
“I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord.”
“My God is now my strength.”
“You are light to the nations,” says the Lord, “so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
“‘You are my servant,’ says the Lord.”
“You are my beloved.”
“With you, I am well pleased.”
If you are ready, open your eyes.
St. Paul experienced this personal intimacy in an incredible encounter with the Lord Jesus. Because of this, he writes to us, “You, who have been sanctified in Christ, called to be holy, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the beloved Son who will baptize with the Holy Spirit, is the one! He is the one who is there for us, who walks with us, who suffers with us in our deepest anguish and rejoices with us in our greatest joys.
For God, it’s personal, very personal. God, our heavenly Father gives to us his only begotten Son—body and blood, soul and Divinity—in every Eucharist and pours forth the Holy Spirit upon us not only in Sacraments but whenever we call upon him.
Do not being afraid to allow God to speak his deepest love into your being. Do not be afraid to stake your life on Jesus, who is the one who gives everything for love of us. Remember, for God, it is personal, very personal.