Isaiah 42:1-9 Psalm 36:5-11 Hebrews 9:11-15 John 12:1-11
The theme throughout today’s readings is the wideness of God’s mercy, but the salient point made over and over again is that God’s mercy extends not to one nation or one people but to all. Isaiah 42:1-9 shows God speaking into the pain of exile (physical and spiritual) his assurance of a servant who will bring justice not only to Israel but to all nations.
In contrast to human wickedness, the psalmist of Psalm 36 sings of the Lord’s “steadfast love” and faithfulness. In contrast to secretive deceit and iniquity, he speaks of God’s righteousness, which is high as the mountains and deep as the seas (5-6). This amazing grace extends to all of creation (verse 7). The words of verses 5-9 are words of praise and of trust in the wideness of God’s mercy which extends not only to all peoples of the world but also to the animals (6). God’s steadfast love is “precious.” His wings provide shelter for all who seek refuge. He is a fountain that provides life; He is light in a world of darkness. In concluding, the psalmist acknowledges the wideness of God’s mercy by praying for its continuance.
The reading from John further defines the contrast between human wickedness and faithfulness in the juxtaposition of Mary and Judas. Mary is honoring Jesus physically and spiritually by anointing him with something precious, precious as the love of Christ. Judas, however, sees her gesture as a waste of money. It is an image as evocative as it is timeless. “Leave her alone,” Jesus tells Judas. Where Judas sees waste, Jesus sees love and devotion.
The author of Hebrews confirms that the servant promised in Isaiah has come. Jesus is the Light in a world of darkness, the fountain of life, whose blood brings redemption to a world in exile. 15”For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”
Every night, like the psalmist, I close my prayers by asking for God’s protection from the wickedness surrounding us (including our own) and for his continuing mercy not only for myself but for all people.