Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.
"Morning after morning" many Christians begin with an "offering" or some prayer like it. Personally, after Office of Readings and Morning Prayer, I like to recite Saint Patrick's Lorica. We hope to consecrate our thoughts, words and deeds to the Lord; and we pray the Lord will help us avert whatever temptations to evil come at us.
In today's first reading, Isaiah describes the daily prayer of the Messiah. He is in deep communion with the Father and his ears are opened that he may hear.
What should I hear today? Beyond what I should think, say or do, what should I hear?
Have you noticed all the defensiveness in political news? A lot of people volunteer as victims. "Look what has been done to me!" they say. And, "It's not my fault!" With all those victims out there, I suppose there must be some tormentors.
Perhaps you're familiar with Karpman's Triangle Drama. In unpleasant interactions between two or more people there may be a "drama" in which they act out their prescribed parts. One is the tormentor; a second is the victim; and the third is the rescuer. The play can go on for days, months or years, and it might get very tiresome but the players keep changing parts. When the rescuer pulls the tormentor off the victim, the victim jumps up and starts pounding on the rescuer, who in turn is rescued by the (former) tormentor. (Police call these interactions "domestics;" they are among the most dangerous situations, for cops in particular.)
Politics needs victims, rescuers and tormentors, and the news media need the stories to entertain their consumers. Black people are victims. But wait! So are white people. Women are victims, and so are men. Children are victims, but so are their parents! Everyone wants to be a victim; empowered by that identity they can take their revenge as tormentors. There is nothing more dangerous than a victim, and when you're dealing with one, you'd best retreat and let them play out their roles with someone else. (Run, don't walk!)
Christians especially like the drama because each role is godlike. Christ was a victim; Christ is the rescuer; Christ is the divine judge who torments the wicked. No matter which role you choose you're a christ-like winner!
"He opens my ears that I may hear." Perhaps I need to hear that I have hurt someone. I didn't intend to. I thought I'd be the hero. Or I thought I was the victim. But when my ears are opened, I realize I was the heavy. I took more freedom than I was given; I took more space than I needed. Lent is rapidly ending. Have I heard since Ash Wednesday that I overstepped my boundaries?
Jesus has offered himself as the victim, but the drama stops with him. He does not turn and punish anyone for what they did to him. His rescue of others -- if you call it that -- is not with any kind of power that we might recognize.
Rather he invites us to hear our guilt and to know our shame. He invites us to pray, "Lord have mercy on us who had no mercy on you." He invites us to hear the Good News of Salvation.