“Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.”

Isaiah 50:7 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Isaiah 50:7

Isaiah’s sense of resolution is quite remarkable. The earlier doubt and struggle is over. Trust in God has triumphed. I am reminded as I read this of a line from William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet:

“If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come—the readiness is all.”

This acceptance of fate seems to pervade the scene in the gospel of Matthew (Chapter 26), where Jesus listens calmly to Judas’ lies. We, the readers, know that Judas has already set the plan in motion that will lead to Jesus’ capture and execution. 

And Jesus knows it too. But he, like Isaiah, has set his face like flint. He will not give up his mission now. Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he can also see that the wheels have been set in motion to kill him. But he is ready to face his fate, not out of self-destructive masochism but as a means to serve a higher purpose. For Jesus, it is God’s purpose. 

My instinct – and I suspect the instinct of many of us – would be to denounce Judas in such a situation. “Liar! I know all about your plot!” But instead, Jesus responds with an almost noncommittal, “You have said so.” I wonder if he said it, staring directly into Judas’ eyes, with the hint of a knowing smile, perhaps even a sly wink, as if to say (without the others observing), “I know you’re lying. But I am not giving up!”

Would we have the strength to do the same?

Loving God,

May the Spirit give us courage: Give us Jesus’ readiness to carry out the mission you assign us, Boldly and humbly, To the end.


Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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