See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him so marred was his look beyond human semblance and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man so shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it.
Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 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. He was spurned and avoided by people, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom people hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.
Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.
Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers; he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, a grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood. But the Lord was pleased to crush him in infirmity.
If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him.
Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“They will look upon him whom they have pierced.”
In 1974, in a small art gallery in Naples, the Yugoslav performance artist, Marina Abramović presented a six hour piece in which she stood beside a table containing seventy-two objects and the instruction to the audience to use them on her as they desired: “I am the object,” the instructions read. “During this period I take full responsibility.”
I have often wondered what I would have done had I been in the audience that night.
Reports suggest that at first people were shy and would not approach her. Then they began playing with her, jokingly: putting a rose in her hands, tying pieces of string to her, moving her limbs about like a puppet. When she remained passive before these manipulations, the crowd grew bolder. Someone used a razorblade to cut her neck. Someone drank the blood. Someone cut off her clothes. Someone took a bullet and a pistol from the table, loaded the gun, and placed it in her hand, pointing at her head. Someone else took the gun away. Someone pierced her side with a thorn from the rose.
At two a.m., when it was announced that the performance was over, she began to move on her own power once more. She walked among the crowd. She willed them to make eye contact. But they all turned and fled from her in shame.
Whatever crowds we hide in, it may be that—to understand ourselves—we must learn to look our victims in the eye.
It is Good Friday. From the cross, it is Jesus who demands our gaze.
-Mr. Terry Quinn teaches English at St. Louis U. High.
Holy One, Shock and save me with the terrible goodness of this Friday and drive me deep into my longing for your kingdom until I seek it first- yet not first for myself, but for the hungry and the sick and the poor of your children; for prisoners of conscience around the world; for those I have wasted with my racism and sexism and ageism and nationalism and religionism; for those around this mother earth and in this city who this Friday know far more of terror than of goodness;
That in my seeking first the kingdom for them as well as for myself, all these things may be mine as well; things like a coat and courage, and something like comfort, a few lilies in the field, the sight of birds soaring on the wind, a song in the night, and gladness of heart, the sense of your presence and the realization of your promise, that nothing in life or death, will be able to separate me or those I love, from your love, in the crucified one who is our Lord, and in whose name and Spirit I pray. Amen
—Ted Loder, “Shock Me With Terrible Goodness”
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