Homilette/MeditationWednesday in Holy Week, Year C
March 27, 2013
Here are the readings.
May the words I speak and the words you hear be God's alone. Amen.
“The Lord God helps me...therefore I have set my face like flint” (Isaiah 50:7). As I was reading the passage from Isaiah, this line caught my eye. What does it mean to set your face like flint? Flint is a hard rock that was commonly used to make tools during the Stone Age. It is a sturdy rock, and has been used all the way up to today, especially in England, as building materials for walls, churches, and homes. So to set your face like flint could mean you clench your jaw and square your shoulders--literally harden your features--in preparation for facing things known and unknown.
In Luke’s Gospel account, we are told that Jesus “sets his face toward Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Jesus does not go into this week ignorant of the consequences of his actions; he knows he is in danger, knows that to travel to Jerusalem is a death sentence. And so when this verse is read, I imagine Jesus setting his face like flint: he takes a deep breath, murmurs a prayer, pulls himself upright, and with a grim expression determinedly continues his journey.
As we mark the progression of Holy Week, we remember how deeply Jesus is hurt by both betrayal and denial by some of his closest friends. How he is beaten with whips and words, mocked by those who have so recently joyfully proclaimed him king. How he is hung upon a tree as a warning to those who would follow him. Broken and scarred, physically and emotionally, Jesus seems to have lost the strength that set his face toward Jerusalem.
But flint is not just known for its strength and stability. When struck, it produces sparks. So too, Jesus, struck and then killed, rises from the grave victorious, igniting a spark that sets the world on fire.
That same fire continues to burn to this day. We may be in the throes of Holy Week, but we know that Easter is on the horizon. Jesus demonstrates that the Lord God can help us face whatever lies ahead. With God’s help, we can set out on our own journey. With God’s help, we can face the obstacles that inevitably appear. With God’s help, not even death can stand in our way.
“The Lord God helps me...therefore I have set my face like flint.”