Becoming a servant challenges us in our culture of privilege and entitlement. U.S. people think of themselves often as serving no one but themselves. Yet so the Lord speaks about the suffering servant to the prophet Isaiah. The service is dedicated to justice, and so this enigmatic figure holds messianic qualities. Only God can save us, but God engages us in his justice making work.

The justice is not made with the assertion of power, but rather more subtlety and quietly and gently, than is typical of human justice imposed by the law. This suffering servant works in a completely different way, a way sometimes far from the ways of the administrative and canonical church of today.

The servant is personally trained in the school of the Holy One, in other words in prayer, in listening, and in silence. The justice is not just for oneself, and not just for the nation, but for the whole world. Then at the end of the passage comes the effects of that justices, which Jesus uses in the synagogue of Nazareth to read and announce his ministry. This is the same ministry laid down for the church today, and so, we must ask ourselves if we are meeting this enormous challenge. Which church do we want, the servant church or the monarchical one?

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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