In the second Suffering Servant Song, the voice changes from that of God (see yesterday’s reading) to the servant’s voice. One could read this poem as a vocation story as it explains how the servant views the task that God has asked the servant to perform.
This song clearly identifies the servant as Israel. “He said to me, ‘You are my servant, in you, Israel, I show my glory.’” (Isaiah 49:3) God’s call to the servant is two-fold. The servant is to gather Jacob together and lead the people back to God. Then the servant is to be a light to other nations, extending God’s saving power to all peoples.
As I mentioned yesterday, the Church sees these poems as proleptic writings about Jesus. Yet they were originally written of Israel itself. God’s holy people, God’s nation was to be a source of life and salvation for all peoples. That task still lies before us; only now God is asking this of the Church, the new people of God.
When we speak of vocations, we usually refer to the path in life that God gives to every individual. However, the Church itself has been called by God. Westerners sometimes have a hard time comprehending that we are more than a collection of individuals. As God’s holy people, the community is also called to embrace God’s will and to extend the grace of Jesus’ saving death to all the world. This is the great commission that Jesus gave his apostles at the end of his sojourn on earth. Our lives are meant to be spent in service to others. The cross of Jesus emphasizes that “my life is not about me.” Through the cross, we learn that we are here for others.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator