[And about three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”]
The greatest risk of loving deeply is the risk of being totally rejected and alone!
I think, for me, the most crucifying feeling in all the world would be to feel I am absolutely abandoned. To feel that nobody cares, that no one loves me, that it doesn’t matter to anyone whether I live or die. If it were to feel that even the God in whom I have put my trust has withdrawn from me, doesn’t seem to be there and doesn’t care, how would I go on? I will admit that I’ve never felt so low; yet every time I hear these words of Jesus from the cross, they tug at my heart in a most unbelievable way!
At three o’clock on a dark Friday, a crucified Jew named Jesus cries out “with a loud voice, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” It more than boggles my mind. The Jesus of whom the Father declared, “This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
There was a time, in my younger years, when I absolutely reacted that this could not be true that Jesus could have felt so much aloneness, so profound a desolation, such a dread reality as the absence of God.
But as my years get longer, I am no longer sure. In Jesus on the cross I hear the loneliness of the friendless, the outcast, the refugee, the aged. I hear the loneliness of every human crucified in spirit and body, unable to see God for the clouds and through the tears.
From my comfortable white, male, middle class security–the despair, the hopelessness, the feelings of loneliness, of abandonment, of God-forsakenness I can scarcely begin to imagine. But what I also realize is that Jesus never stopped trusting! His cry comes from the very depths of his being, his cry of desolation–but it is a scream, a shriek to God.
My experiences are certainly not unique as I sit with a young woman who just lost her baby after 7 months of pregnancy; or the father who found his teenage son following a self-inflicted gunshot wound; or the mother at the funeral of her daughter just diseased from a rare cancer. In each circumstance, they were asking, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And in any of these situations, there are no easy answers, no words coated with sugar, no soothing theological arguments.
But what we do have is the redemptive love of Jesus the Christ, whose frightful aloneness on the cross, like his hunger in the desert, like his blood in the garden, were all part of his human/divine love for each one of us. And it is that redemptive love we cling to in our broken lives, no matter what. Because for all that Good Friday is about, it is the assurance that God is there, God is here, God is close.
In faith we trust it, especially when we cannot sense it, cannot feel it, cannot believe it. In faith we are called to believe that God cares infinitely more than you and I do.
On this sacred day—we call “Good”– may we know deeply God’s ever-present love and may we be graced to distinguish this love even in the darkest moments of our lives. Amen.