The 24th Sunday of the Year

Is 50:5-9A; Ps 116; Jas 2:14-18; Mk 8:27-35 (Year B)

 ‘I love the Lord for he has heard the cry of my appeal, for he turned his ear to me in the day when I called him.” The prayer of the psalmist expresses gratitude for the God who hears the cry of his people.

Throughout Israel’s long history this listening God had responded. To the cries of their enslavement in Egypt he had responded with the deliverance of the Exodus. To the deprivations of their 40 years in the wilderness he had responded with the gift of a land that would be their own. This God, who had been with his people in deliverance and conquest, would now be with them in a completely new and unexpected way. “For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard. I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.”

The prophet Isaiah, in his suffering servant songs, began to point to an entirely different kind of Messiah, and to an entirely different kind of salvation. This suffering servant, clearly fulfilled in Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, would not only hear the cries of his people but would also place himself at the very heart of their suffering. Suffering would cease to be an obstacle to salvation.

It would become the place where God met his people, becoming their servant in shared suffering, so as to lead them to a sure salvation. “So, too, I set my face like flint; I know I shall not be shamed. My vindicator is here at hand.”

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