Visio Divina for 4/03/11 – “Suffering Servant” – Day 2 (Meditating)


Ruminate on the word you were drawn to in yesterday’s scripture passage (Isaiah 53:3-7). What does the word or phrase you have chosen mean to you today?


There is a practice we refer to as “sustained lectio“; that is, returning to an illumination or text again and again to draw deeper nourishment from it. The text and imagery has not changed, but we have. We can also be inspired by our own thoughts and reflections from before, which is why each Seeing the Word Reflection Guide has room for journaling. Irene Nowell OSB, who wrote the meditations for the Seeing the Word printed materials, even suggests dating our thoughts as we write them.

Last year, I reflected on the Suffering Servant during Lent as well. I now go back and read what I wrote:

When I listen to this scripture passage, I am drawn to the phrase “we held him of no account”. I cannot imagine that those who saw Jesus’ affliction fully knew in their hearts what they were doing, who they were witnessing. They did not see Jesus Christ, the Son of God, suffering. Instead they saw someone suffering who, in their eyes, was of “no account”. Why am I drawn to this phrase? I feel the reason rising almost against my will: am I guilty of this too?

This is familiar to me, and still rings true. Yet now, I find myself instead drawn to the phrase “struck down by God”. This is not an idea that at first draws me closer to God. I am uncomfortable with the idea of a God who strikes down, and the fact that the suffering servant is innocent only makes matters worse.

The prayer (“oratio”) movement of visio comes later in the week, but already I feel inside of me questions directed at God: “Why? How could you?” These are questions that come up far too often. How could God allow a sick relative to suffer, to die? How could God design the world this way? I pray that as I meditate on this image and text I can find some words of comfort.


© Suffering Servant, Donald Jackson, 2005. The Saint John’s Bible, Order of Saint Benedict, Collegeville, Minnesota. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Catholic Edition, © 1993, 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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