Good Friday, I found the prophet Isaiah wrong!
BAY, LAGUNA - 3 PM, 06 April 2012, inside the Roman Catholic San Agustin Parish Church, full of warm bodies but it's not hot. Officiating is Rev Fr Jessie Somosierra Jr, in red cape, signifying blood spilled, I surmise.
The text read is in Filipino, and I know that so much is lost in the translation. I try to listen, but the more I notice that the Filipino language can never do justice to the Greek or even to the English version.
I'm writing this the day after, Black Saturday, so now I can check the readings in English with my wife's Bible Diary, the one prepared by Claretian Publications, with verses taken from the Christian Community Bible (Catholic Pastoral Edition).
1st Reading, Isaiah 52: 13 to 53:12:
Who could believe what we have heard and to whom has Yahweh revealed his feat? Like a root out of dry ground, like a sapling he grew up before us, with nothing attractive in his appearance, no beauty, no majesty. He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows familiar with grief, a man from whom people hide their face, spurned and considered of no account ... Destroyed because of our sins, he was crushed for our wickedness. Through his punishment we are made whole, by his wounds we are healed. Like sheep we had all gone astray, each following his own way; but Yahweh laid upon him all our guilt.
He was harshly treated, but unresisting and silent, he humbly submitted. Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearer he did not open his mouth. He was taken away to detention and judgment - what an unthinkable fate! He was cut off from the land of the living, stricken for his people's sin. They made his tomb with the wicked, they put him in the graveyard of the oppressors, though he had done no violence nor spoken in deceit...
Isaiah is known as the one who prophesied the coming of the Messiah. Remember, this is the prophet speaking, rather, prophesying, hundreds of years before the advent of Jesus the Christ. Isaiah says, "Like a root out of dry ground, like a sapling he grew up before us" - The boy was born into the Roman Empire that would not admit of gods other than the accredited ones. Jesus they treated as merely a pretender, nay, a fool.
He had "nothing attractive in his appearance, no beauty, no majesty" - That is correct. That's what artists have articulated and poets have pronounced of the Redeemer. Your average, ordinary guy, nothing special about him, no aura of holiness - he was too young to be called a Holy Man.
"He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows familiar with grief" - What do you do when your closest friends desert you when you need them most? Sweat in blood. What do you when you pray to let this cup pass but you know that God's will be done? You can pray harder. That's what Jesus did when he prayed at Gethsemane 3 times: "Father, let this cup pass. But your will be done, not mine." You can sweat blood. That's what Jesus did when he prayed and on the 3rd time, he knew that God's will be done.
"Destroyed because of our sins, he was crushed for our wickedness" - He was not dying for himself; he was dying for others. The greatest love of all.
"Through his punishment we are made whole, by his wounds we are healed" - Warning: I must remind you that a prophecy is a metaphor, like Nostradamus' prophecies are, not something literal. The prophet is not perfect, not Isaiah, not Nostradamus. Don't take a prophet literally. So, by the sufferings of Christ we are not made whole instantly; by his wounds we are not healed automatically. We have to suffer ourselves, except that we know that if we accept the suffering, we will be made whole. We have to deal with our wounds ourselves before they can be healed; God will not heal our wounds for us, no.
"Like sheep we had all gone astray, each following his own way" - Yes, but unlike sheep, we have a mind of our own, and we will not be led by the shepherd on his reassuring voice alone. We are stubborn!
"He was harshly treated, but unresisting and silent, he humbly submitted. Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearer he did not open his mouth" - That is incorrect. Jesus was not silent, no; Jesus did open his mouth, if only to say a few words. Among these, those powerful "The 7 Last Words," a lasting legacy. He had the last words on his oppressors.
Earlier on Good Friday, I was watching on ABS-CBN Channel 6 TV a live broadcast from the Christ the King Seminary in Quezon City, listening to the preacher (I didn't get his name) dwell on the 3rd and 4th words:
Woman, behold thy son! Behold thy mother!
It is almost always the mother who is the light of the home. Well, I'm married to the mother of my children and I should know.
Mother Mary suffered equally with Jesus. The mother who shared on Good Friday was the one who cared despite everything. Even if she was reading her text, the sharing lady (I didn't get her name either) spoke with conviction and honesty about her son who was a drug addict. Eventually, he came back to the home in which he was loved. The mother almost always cares enough to do the very best.
Then I went to hear the Good Friday mass (no Communion) at the San Agustin Parish Church, and when it was over I took pictures of the 14 Stations of the Cross. They were all lighted except this one, Station #9, which shows Jesus being nailed on the cross. I checked for the switch but I couldn't find one. Anyway, was this a message to everyone gathered in Good Friday at San Agustin Parish Church in Bay, Laguna on 06 April 2012? I don't know. I don't know that I'm a prophet.
In my essay last year about "Bay's Way of the Cross. I saw the beginning in the Last Supper" (04 April 2011, American Chronicle), I said this Via Crucis best begins and ends as it was decreed by Pope Paul VI in 1964, with the Last Supper as Station #1 and the Resurrection as Station #14. That is to say, Christ is risen. Meaning, though you may be crucified, you will live again if you submit to God's will. If you will. You must will.