“That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.” (Is 50:4)
In the readings today we see models of the suffering servant. The perfect model is that of Jesus, who through his trial, persecution, and passion, never ceases to reflect God’s merciful love for his people. In a similar manner, the prophet Isaiah describes his own faithfulness through persecution and gentleness with those who are weary. They model for us how we can be ministers of reconciliation in the world.
In my second month of teaching (just seven months ago), one of my most diligent students came into class looking upset. Being a new and insecure teacher, I insisted upon her participation in a game of charades. She responded with a look of anger and disgust and proceeded to act out inappropriately, to say the least.
There was no doubt in my mind that I was being punished for hurt someone else had caused her. It was clear something was going on in her life. It took the rest of class to figure out how best to respond.
I could have responded with righteous anger for her poorly controlled behavior; I could have chosen to discipline her harshly. Instead, when the bell rang, I caught her attention on her way out, held gentle eye contact for a moment and said, “thank you for being patient and participating.” She held the gaze for a soft pause, then left without a word.
I believe my choice to be compassionate was as helpful for me as it was for her.
There is no doubt in my mind that hours of prayer and boundless grace made my response possible. I do not always respond to my students with such patience. However, I always strive to follow the model of Jesus, the suffering servant. He experienced unjustifiable suffering at the hands of others and responded with a merciful love only God could show.
As we reflect this week upon the suffering that Jesus endured for our sakes, we can ask for the grace to show his mercy to others who hurt us. By doing so, we help reconcile each other and the world to him.
~ Reflection by Juan Ruiz, SJ