The Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. When Jesus became aware of this, he departed. Many crowds followed him, and he cured all of them, and he ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
‘Here is my servant, whom I have chosen,
my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not wrangle or cry aloud,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
He will not break a bruised reed
or quench a smouldering wick
until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.’
In the two weeks since my final session of chemotherapy the whole tone of my email inbox has changed. It would appear that some people feel that I am now ready to be criticized and nagged about a whole host of trivial matters. The ultimate example of this was demonstrated by the email that began: I know that you are ‘supposed’ to be unwell … As I have begun to field these emails I have often thought of today’s reading. To date, as far as I am aware, no one has conspired to ‘destroy’ me, but … I suppose you never know!
I open today’s reflection in this personal way because so many of us encounter such mundane pressures at moments when we are already feeling weak and vulnerable. That is certainly where we meet Jesus today. He felt so threatened and vulnerable that ‘he departed’.
But … the need for him did not go away, and he continued in his ministry. Faithfully and lovingly he carried on healing those who were unwell and possessed.
It is at this point in Matthew’s gospel that we are given words from the prophet Isaiah. These words are well known and they remind us of Jesus’, and by extension, our call to serve.
Jesus was beset with so many complaints and anxieties and threats, but he remained focus.
In recent months the nature and the intensity of the complaints, anxieties and threats that we have had to deal with have changed, but we are still called to carry on loving and serving in the name of Christ.
The question at the end of this week is still – how do we love and serve in the name of the one who gave everything for us?
Are we so wedded to our need to be ‘in control’ of everything and everyone around us that we continue to miss the point of Jesus’ call in our lives?
Are we still so anxious and over-burdened, physically and mentally, that we forget that Jesus can take care of all that for us?
Are we ready to open our hearts and minds and let Jesus direct us along the path that leads to true life in him?