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Saturday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from Gospel of Matthew 12:14-21.

Suffering Servant by Heart Windows Art

The Chosen Servant – Matthew 12:14-21

But the Pharisees went out and took counsel against him to put him to death.

When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place. Many [people] followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known.

This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
my beloved in whom I delight;
I shall place my spirit upon him,
and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory.
And in his name the Gentiles will hope.

Matthew follows Mark

The Mercy of Jesus – Mark 3:7–12

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people [followed] from Galilee and from Judea.

Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.

He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.

He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.

And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.”

He warned them sternly not to make him known.

but summarizes the above passage of his source in two verses

  • When Jesus realized this, he withdrew from that place. Many [people] followed him, and he cured them all, but he warned them not to make him known. (Matthew 12:15-16)

that pick up the withdrawal, the healings, and the command for silence. Jesus’ knowledge of the Pharisees’ plot and his healing all are peculiar to Matthew.

Now Matthew adds a fulfillment citation from the first Servant Song in Isaiah.

The Servant of the Lord – Isaiah 42:1-9

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased.
Upon him I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not cry out, nor shout,
nor make his voice heard in the street.

A bruised reed he will not break,
and a dimly burning wick he will not quench.
He will faithfully bring forth justice.

He will not grow dim or be bruised
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and its produce,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:

I, the LORD, have called you for justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,

To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

I am the LORD, LORD is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to idols.

See, the earlier things have come to pass,
new ones I now declare;
Before they spring forth
I announce them to you.

Matthew’s citation does not correspond exactly to either the Hebrew or LXX (or simply Septuagint, or the “Greek Old Testament”) of that passage. This is the longest Old Testament citation in this gospel, emphasizing the meekness of Jesus, the Servant of the Lord, and foretelling the extension of his mission to the Gentiles.

The servant’s not contending in

  • He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. (Matthew 12:19)

is seen as fulfilled in Jesus’ withdrawal from the disputes narrated in Matthew 12:1–14.

Except for a minor detail,

  • “And in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matthew 12:21)

Matthew here follows the LXX, although the meaning of the Hebrew is similar.

  • לֹ֤א יִכְהֶה֙ וְלֹ֣א יָר֔וּץ עַד־ יָשִׂ֥ים בָּאָ֖רֶץ מִשְׁפָּ֑ט וּלְתֹורָתֹ֖ו אִיִּ֥ים יְיַחֵֽילוּ׃ פ (Isaiah 42:4)
  • He will not grow dim or be bruised until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching. (Isaiah 42:4)

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