Generally speaking, we just hate to look at people suffering. Many people just can’t bring themselves to go to visit a loved one in the hospital or a nursing home, because they are so uncomfortable with the pain of others. Sometimes in our daily travels we may see a person who is disfigured or who has some sort of handicap, and we immediately look away, not wanting to stare, but even more, not wanting to come to terms with the burden they bear. This is the way the suffering servant is portrayed in today’s first reading. The suffering servant is one who is completely unremarkable in appearance. We wouldn’t even notice him walking down the street if we saw him. Yet this is the Messiah. Even more though, he takes upon himself every form of suffering: public scorn, harsh treatment, bodily affliction, oppression, sin and infirmity. Now we would not only not notice him, but we’d actually prefer to avoid him at all costs.
What kind of Savior is this? Well, this is the kind of Savior who would go willingly to the Cross, knowing its pain, taking its burden, forsaking all for the glory of God. This is the kind of Savior who reached out to everyone who came to him on the way of the Cross, because he was committed to the mission of reaching out to all the lost. This is the kind of Savior who could look down from the Cross, in the midst of agony and among his last breaths, and take care of a grieving mother and a weeping friend. This Savior knows our pains and knows our sufferings and is not embarrassed to look upon them, and even to take them on himself for our salvation.
We have a Savior who is well acquainted with our weakness. This Savior sits next to you when you sit at the bedside of a dying family member. This Savior agonizes with you when your children make wrong choices. This Savior weeps with you when someone important to you is taken from your life much too soon. This Savior weeps with you, and embraces you and takes your suffering upon himself. It might be hard to look at the Cross today, but we venerate that Cross because we have been loved from it and we have been redeemed by it.