“The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name… the Lord formed me as his servant from the womb.” The words of the Second Song of the Servant from the Book of Isaiah strike a familiar and emotionally powerful note in the heart of every Catholic, as we have heard them in the liturgy for years. They are the lyrics of the song of the mystery of every life: Isaiah’s, Isaiah’s followers, Israel’s, yours, and mine.
Today’s readings link this song of the mystery of our lives to the Gospel of John, to the painful part about the betrayal by Judas and the denials by Peter. We can’t get through Holy Week to Easter Sunday without being reminded.
I am an older Catholic, an octogenarian, a Catholic from birth, instilled with the old Baltimore catechism and familiar with the new Catholic Catechism, a boyhood server and later celebrant of the old Latin Mass and then of the new liturgy in English, a student in Rome who was gifted to observe several years of the Second Vatican Council, who has spent his life meditating on what it means to be a servant of the Lord in multiple circumstances. I have been gifted to receive all seven sacraments of the Catholic church but also challenged with a special pain.
I love the Catholic Church, because I love Jesus the Christ who has chosen to live now through us as a Church. That love, in my later years, has been filled with pain, because of the betrayals and denials by abusers of youths, clerical church leaders compromised by hypocrisy, and those who put up roadblocks to needed reform.
“In you, Lord, I take refuge…you are my hope, my trust…in your justice rescue me.” The words of the 71st Psalm, titled “an old man’s prayer” in the Jerusalem Bible translation, are coupled with our other readings as a song to sing in our pain, this Holy Week, to have our journey arrive at Resurrection Sunday.
Q: How and when have I felt the Lord calling me to be his servant? Have I betrayed or denied him? Have I asked for forgiveness, and am I willing to persevere in doing what He asks of me?