This morning’s first reading reminds us of the Easter Vigil. It details for us the experience of the children of Israel as they left their slavery in Egypt. Four hundred and thirty years previous, Jacob had moved his entire family of twelve sons with their wives and children, his own four wives, and their maid and man servants as well. That large family has burgeoned into a small nation of 600,000 men. (Once again, the women and children are not included.) To this day the Jewish people celebrate the day on which they escaped this cruel slavery.
Our own escape from slavery also took place within the time of Passover as the Gospels recount. Once again, twelve men were chosen to go forth and preach the Gospel of Jesus, baptizing them into a new people, a new nation, a new people of God. We make that event present in our lives each time we come to the table of the Lord.
The Gospel passage for today is not frequently proclaimed. It occurs only on this particular Saturday within Ordinary Time. St. Matthew is particularly concerned about presenting Jesus as the fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures and carefully identifies Jesus with the figure in the first of the oracles of Isaiah which we know as the first of the Suffering Servant songs. This particular oracle focuses our attention of the servant who suffers in silence, who does not attack his persecutors. While we have heard Jesus confront the Pharisees when they criticize him publically, while they plot in secret, Jesus remains silent.
I cannot imagine anything more difficult than a person who chooses to simply ignore the plots that are being formed against him or her. Yet in our own time, we see this demonstrated by our own Holy Father who does not respond to his critics, even those within his own Church.
One could ask why such behavior is considered worthy. The answer is found in Jesus himself who trusts that His Father will eventually come to his rescue. We too are called to such trust. No matter what are particular cross might be, we are asked to carry it as we follow Jesus who set us free by dying on a cross.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator