Suffering Servant

The First Reading for the Mass of the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time is one that serves as a foreshadow or prophecy of Jesus as the Messiah, and of His suffering mission:

Isaiah 53:10-11:“The LORD was pleased
to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin,
he shall see his descendants in a long life,
and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his affliction
he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant shall justify many,
and their guilt he shall bear.”

(Via USCCB.)

God was “pleased” to crush Him, inasmuch as He was sent to Earth incarnate for one reason, to suffer and die for our sins. Jesus fulfilled His Father’s will, and in doing so bought for us salvation. His suffering will be the instrument by which His followers will be saved. We shall be with Him in Eternity.

I had a weird thought while I was reading this before the Saturday Vigil Mass I attend. As Christians we are called to be like Christ, to accept suffering as our part in working out our redemption. My weird thought was connected to the lament often heard by the newly sober: “Why am I an alcoholic?”

Well, I think the answer to that lies in the passage from Isaiah. If it can be rewritten from the perspective of an alcoholic being like a “suffering servant” using his addiction as a means of fulfilling God’s will, perhaps alcoholics can take some comfort, or strength, in their addiction. So, here is a paraphrase of the Suffering Servant passage from Isaiah (feel free to substitute “her” for “him”):

“God was pleased to crush him in his infirmity.

If he uses his life and offers it up for his addiction,
he shall see his fellow addicts in a long life,
and the will of God shall be accomplished through him.

Because of his addiction he shall see the light in fullness of days;
through his suffering, my servant help many to be righteous,
and their guilt he shall hear.”

(The inspired writer of Scripture is much better than I!)

In short, by adapting the Suffering Servant passage, alcoholics and addicts can see their addiction as a means of fulfilling God’s will. By combining their understanding of addiction with their personal experiences of it, they can help others. They can “hear” other people’s pain and sorrow, and begin to see the brokenness in them. The addict’s woundedness and suffering can be used to alleviate other people’s pain.

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)

"The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts"

and "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"

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