“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.
He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
At Jesus’ baptism, a voice is heard, assuring those present that Jesus is the Son of God, in whom God is well pleased. This language evokes prophesy from deutero-Isaiah in which the prophet tells of a servant of God who is possessed of the spirit of God—meek and gentle, but also a bringer of inexorable justice. Within the quiet servant is a transformative power. This power is not held by a triumphant leader, nor is the transformation wrought from Heaven itself. It comes from a servant of God, whose cry will not be heard in the streets.
Sometimes I think I don’t always look for God in the right places: I seek out the grand, the big, the loud. But what this reading in Isaiah tells us is that it pays to listen to the barely audible. God’s love, righteousness, faithfulness, or judgment is not like the words of men or women; they are like the mighty mountain, or the great deep: ever-present, never calling attention to itself. If I can remember to be quiet, I can hear and see the goodness of God, and when I don’t blind myself, I can see light by the quiet light of God.
We can take our cue from Mary of Bethany. She cared for Jesus and his disciples, giving them food and shelter. Then, bearing witness to the Lord, she cared for Him when His hour of trial was almost at hand. Jesus knew she cared for those in need, and He knows when we do likewise. So let us look and listen for the call of servant with the spirit of God who is quietly transforming and renewing the world. God did not visit Elijah in the wind, the fire, or the earthquake, but in a sound of sheer silence.
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 42:1-9, Psalm 36:5-11, John 12:1-11