I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. 

“I sure hope so.” “I hope he gets the promotion.” “I hope she’s going to be all right.” Think about what the word “hope” means in these sentences. It seems much more like vague optimism than the virtue of hope. It’s as if we’re saying that we really want something to happen or that, if we’re lucky, things will work out okay for us.

Today’s first reading (Isaiah 50:4-9) shows us a different kind of hope. Even though the word is not used, there’s a current of hope running through the passage. We can see that the servant in the reading has put his hope in the Lord. But it isn’t just a vague optimism; in fact, it is an act of complete trust. “The Lord God is my help,” he says, “therefore I am not disgraced. . . . I shall not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7).

Like this servant, Jesus’ face was set “like flint” (Isaiah 50:7). St. Luke tells us that when the time drew near, Jesus “resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). He trusted in his Father’s love, and he knew that any shame he encountered along the way would not have the final word.

Jesus had hope because he knew that his Father was utterly trustworthy. Our hope is founded on the same kind of reliance on God. We can trust that our difficulties won’t have the final word because we have a Father in heaven who will never abandon us. The best way to face down the situations that threaten our hope, whether internal dispositions or outward circumstances, is to fix our eyes on God and his faithfulness and love.

So take heart! Fix your eyes on what Jesus did on the cross for you. That’s where he took on every bit of your suffering, pain, and sin. He not only endured the agony of a brutal execution, but he conquered death in the process. And that gives you the ultimate hope of eternal life with him. With such confidence to support you, you can set your face like flint and know that, no matter what, you will not be put to shame.

“Lord, as I contemplate your passion, help me to trust in your love and to place all my hope in you.”

Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31, 33-34
Matthew 26:14-25
Isaiah 50:4-9


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