First Reading: Isaiah 53:10-11

The Suffering Servant

10 Yet it pleased YHWH to bruise him.
He has caused him to suffer.
When you make his soul an offering for sin,
he shall see his seed.
He shall prolong his days,
and the pleasure of YHWH shall prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light and be satisfied.
My righteous servant will justify many by the knowledge of himself;
and he will bear their iniquities.

World English Bible

This passage takes place in the context of Isaiah 53, one of the so-called "Suffering Servant Songs." Written at the end of Babylonian Exile, these "songs" speak of God inflicting suffering upon his servant for the good of the people. While interpreters have argued over the identity of the servant, Christians have always pointed to the crucified Christ as the One who suffers for the people. Indeed, Isaiah 53 is read on Good Friday as the first reading.

Isaiah 53:10-11 speaks of the reason for suffering [10] and the reward for the servant [11]. Notice both the suffering and reward are community wide; the servant suffers for the sin of the community and the benefits of the suffering are enjoyed by the same community. Hence, the servant is a leader appointed by God (to do his will in 53:10) but rejected by people (see 53:3).

Catholics speak of Jesus as priest, prophet, and king. All three images converge in Isaiah 53. The rejected leader (king) offers himself (priest) for the good of the community; his action reveals God's will and actions (prophet).

Where do you see Jesus? How is he your priest, prophet, and king?