Created: Wednesday, 30 June 2010 Last Updated: Friday, 07 June 2013
Faith experience involves assuming the role of Yahwe’s servant. In the bible, the servant figure appears in the Book of Consolation (Is 4055) so-named because his first words: Console my people (40,1). The book is written after the prophet Isaiah, who receives his mission in the year 740 before Christ. The words of consolation were addressed to the Jewish people who were exiled in Babylonia (years 587-538). The new power is Persia: Will King Cyrus submit to Babylonia? Will the exiles come back? An unknown prophet (Isaiah's disciple) announces this as a new exodus: it is already in progress, don’t you notice it?
At first, the prophet saw God’s intervention through his servant Cyrus, chosen to subdue nations before him, to open doors before him (45,1). But little by little a mysterious figure appears, who will be an instrument of universal salvation: What can you say about him? In four poems (42,1-7; 49,1-6; 50,4-10; 52,13-15 y 53) so his figure and his mission. The last poem describes his pitiful aspect, the servant’s cross.
The servant is chosen, sustained and loved by God: Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. I have put my spirit upon him. (Is 42,1). This word is completely fulfilled in the baptism of Jesus, of whom it is said: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. (Mt 3,17). Like in the beginning of the world (Gen 1,2) the spirit descends like a dove and reveals a new creation. The servant is called, guided, formed and destined by God to be a covenant of the people and light of nations to carry out signs of liberation: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you, I have given you as a covenant to the people and light of nations to open the eyes of those who are blind, to free from prison those who sit in darkness. (Is 42,6-7). What the prophets dreamt is fulfilled in the Gospel’s signs. (Lk 3,18-19).
The servant perceives himself as summoned by God since the beginning, from the womb (Is 49,1). He not only announces but also denounces: He made my mouth like a sharp sword; He hid me in the shadows of his hand; He made me a polished arrow: He kept me in his quiver. (49,2) He may see Himself as seized by a feeling of failure: I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing. (49,4). Nevertheless his fecundity is enormous before God: It is too light a thing that you should my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserve of Israel. I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth. (49,6).
As Mary, the slave of God, the servant is disciple who listens to the Word: The Lord wakens my ears. (50,4). As a true prophet, he is a sign of contradiction (Lk 2,34), he is struck, insulted and spit upon: I was not rebellious, I did not turn back. I gave my back to the spitters and my cheeks to those who pulled at my beard; I did not hide my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God helps me; therefore, I have not been confounded; therefore, I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame (50,5-7). Amidst the contradiction, the servant asks for another trial: He who vindicates me is near: who will contend with me ? (50,8). God likes the servant to be listened to: Who among you fears the Lord, listens to the voice of His servant. (50,10). In the passage of transfiguration it is said of Jesus: Listen to Him (Mt 17,5).