by Colleen Kelly & Bronagh Kelly Jones
“He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him” (Isaiah 52:19-20).
First impressions are sometimes completely incorrect. Just as Jesus was misjudged and eventually crucified for it, judging a book by its cover can have consequences. Jesus was put to death because his people would not take the time to listen, to witness the miracles he could make happen, and realize that he was in fact the Child of God. In the first reading, Jesus is compared to a sheep being sheared, an act that humans would relate to as humiliating and full of embarrassment. To further the shame, when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they stripped him of his clothes, fulfilling the Scripture passage that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18). Jesus is also compared to a lamb being led to slaughter, submitting and not speaking out. In Isaiah (11:6), it is said that the wolf shall lay down with the lamb. Jesus could be the figurative lamb and the people the wolf. In this situation, the wolf did not lay with the lamb, but did in fact lead it to slaughter. This does not mean that in the future, however, the wolf and lamb will not lie together.
Though Jesus was fully divine, he was also fully human. He needed to die to save humanity. The divine part of him accepted this, but being human, letting go is always hard to do. Sometimes it is letting go that makes us stronger, not holding on. Letting go of the old can bring in the new. Jesus dying and letting go of all the ties he had on our physical earth enabled us to let go of the old way of humanity and allowed us to embrace the salvation Jesus’ death brought to us.
The Catholic Church teaches to follow Jesus in his ways. Jesus’ life, purpose, and teachings are just some examples. Jesus loves and serves us, so we love and serve him, and he calls us to do the same for others. The reward of the suffering servant is salvation through Jesus, by following Jesus’ example. We are able to relate to God through God’s son Jesus, who knows humanity intimately, and once walked among us. Jesus has much to teach, and we have much to learn. We must learn what we can from his example of acceptance and reverence even in
the face of death.
- What can I take from Jesus’ death and bring into my life?
- It what ways can I be thankful for Jesus’ sacrifice for human salvation?
- How can I learn to be more open-minded about first appearances?
* This reflection appeared in From Ashes to Resurrection, Death to New Life: Reflections for Lent 2012, published by Pax Christi USA.