JULY 19, 2003, HOMILY: MATTHEW 12: 14- 21 

HERE IS MY SERVANT WHOM I HAVE CHOSEN, MY BELOVED, THE FAVORITE OF MY SOUL. I WILL ENDOW HIM WITH MY SPIRIT. These words from the prophet Isaiah, cited by St. Matthew by way of explaining Jesus’ mission and even his identity, are among the most significant of all the Hebrew Scriptures. What gives them such weight is the fact that they served to reveal to Jesus himself the nature of his ministry; even more, they contributed to his growing self-understanding as a messenger sent by God. St. Luke tells us explicitly that Jesus “grew in wisdom, in stature and favor with God and men (2:52). As he did so he became increasingly aware of the specific features of his human identity and character as well as of his divine relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. 

We must make a special effort to grasp the mysterious fact that Jesus is fully and truly man as well as God. The history of the Church’s growth in understanding of the Incarnation of the Word reveals all too dramatically how challenging a task that is. In fact, it is impossible to our human intelligence unaided by grace. Evidence of this truth is supplied by the considerable numbers of serious and brilliant men who went astray in their faith as a result of erroneous ideas concerning issues of Christology. Those great men of the Spirit, such as Athanasius, Basil and Gregory Nazianzus, who did preserve the proper boundaries involved in relating these two natures to the one divine personality of the Incarnate Word, were the first to realize how inadequate their words were to express this awesome truth. The Evangelists each had their own manner of indicating the fact that Jesus is truly man and yet at the same time more than man. As Matthew indicates in this passage, he is God’s servant but at the same time his favorite, endowed with his Spirit. 

Our Lord, then, passed through the various stages of human development and grew into his personal sense of identity as we also must only by stages and by struggle, come to know our true self. He too had to undergo periods where he felt uncertainty, anxiety, and endure a sense of vulnerability. All of these weaknesses he took on himself when he humbled himself, taking the form of a slave, in order to carry out the Father’s plan for our redemption. 

May we take courage and find confidence from considering this great mystery of God’s love that leads him to seek us out by giving his beloved and only Son for us. Here in the Eucharist he gives him as well to us so that, united with him in communion, we might, in the strength of his Spirit, prove willing servants and become beloved sons of the same Father.

   Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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