My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

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By Sister Hilda Jimenez

Every Good Friday, we pause, meditate and pray; we take advantage of the great tradition of the Church. We meditate on the moment when, according to the Gospel, Jesus spoke these words as we pray for those who, in many countries of the world today, suffer injustice and isolation: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” 

Jesus was speaking his final words to us. He shows us how he has fulfilled his saving mission and sent us faith to follow in his footsteps. On the cross, tortured, dying, as he struggled for air to breathe, Jesus didn’t hang in silence.  

At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani? Which is translated, My God, my God, why have forsaken me? 

Mk. 15:34 

In this moment, Jesus was quoting the words of Psalm 22, offering his suffering to the Father. Jesus applied this psalm to himself as he cried from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Did Jesus feel he had called out to his Father in vain? As the Father remained silent, did Jesus feel deprived of all heavenly consolation?  

When God feels far off and distant, in this most human and vulnerable moment, Jesus cites Psalm 22, the same psalm we sing on Good Friday. Such was the supreme trial which Jesus endured to save us from our sins. Yet, amid tremendous darkness, deep down in Jesus’ soul there is light. He knows that despite his Father’s silence, God is always with him. The Father doesn’t abandon Christ; rather Christ abandons himself to the Father. 

The crucifixion of Jesus is something I cannot fully understand. On that day, Jesus was truly God and fully human, so his voice of forgiveness, salvation, relationship, abandonment and distress is worth pondering; it offers comfort to our life as Christians. 

Reflecting on what is happening in our world today where there is so much injustice—isolation, hatred, anger, wars and the victims of war, prejudice, so many people are crying for peace almost to the point of being hopeless—I would cry to the loving Father with pitiful voice: Why? Why is this war happening between Ukraine and Russia? Why this war between Israel and Gaza? Why have so many children died, deprived of food and homes, forced to leave their homelands and seek shelter in strange lands just to survive? There is no end to the suffering! Why are they abandoned, Lord God? 

Lord Jesus, listen to my prayers! Listening to God, who offers us deep love and courageous assurance, I feel that God the Father does not abandon his people. He does not abandon me, even for all my questions, but provides a loving presence to help me bear my own pain and struggles with what is happening in the world. I hope to understand fully the saving power of God’s love. 

As we reflect on the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice, we see the humility in his suffering and the bloody death of his crucifixion in all its pain and intensity. I acknowledge every suffering and sacrifice of our savior Jesus Christ. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your steadfast love that led you to lay down your life for me and as a ransom for all people who believe in you.