With the story of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem at the start of Mass today and the account of his passion and death in the long Gospel, it’s easy to overlook the first reading from the prophet Isaiah.
We are used to thinking of discipleship as something passive – listening, learning and following, and the third and fourth sentences of this passage from Isaiah bear that out: ‘Each morning he wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple. The Lord has opened my ear.’ But before that there are two sentences that struck me, as if for the first time, this week when we’ve been reflecting on Pope Francis’ insistence that we are all missionary disciples: ‘The Lord has given me a disciple’s tongue. So that I may know how to reply to the wearied, he provides me with speech.’
Our discipleship begins with listening: the Lord has opened our ears to listen to his Word in the scriptures and to hear the cries of those who suffer all around us. But our discipleship doesn’t stop there. The Lord has given each of us a disciple’s ear, but also the tongue of a disciple. He has provided us with speech so that we may know how to speak of his goodness to all those who are weary and burdened.
As we recall this week the awe-inspiring story of the betrayal, suffering and death of Jesus, our hearts are filled with compassion for those who are weighed down by the forces of sin and evil in our world. Holy Week demands that we spend time weeping with those who weep, that we face the darkness that is in our lives and our world. But when we come together on Holy Saturday night and Easter Sunday morning to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death, the joy and hope that fills our hearts needs to find its way out of our mouths, and through the witness of our lives, so that we speak and act as disciples of our risen Lord to bring this good news to those who need it most.