My friends, for musicians, music is the vehicle through which one express the height and the depth of ones feelings. But, only when music is written with or delivered with feeling does it truly touch the heart of the listener. And so it is with prayer. Prayer is also the vehicle through which one expresses the height and the depth of one's feelings. But, it is honest prayer that truly touches the heart of God.
Jesus' fourth word from the cross is shot through with honesty and passion. "My God! My God!" Jesus prayed, "Why have you abandoned Me?" Let us pause to enter into this moment of darkness.
My sisters and brothers, I believe that most of us if not all of us have experienced a time in our lives when we felt utterly abandoned by God and we didn't know where to go or what to do.
Recently, a young dad told me that his teenage daughter accused him of sexually molesting her. After three long years it was proven that she did this to get even with her dad for refusing her permission to spend the night with her boyfriend. Naturally, he was acquitted. However, he admitted that his prayer still is, "Why, God, why? I'm a good dad. I love my daughter. I wish only that which is good for her. Why, God, why? Why did you abandon me?" Believe me. Most of us know this feeling. I remember the day when I sat before the tabernacle too exhausted to kneel and too angry to pray. I remember sobbing bitterly, bitterly. Every tear was saying, "Why, God, why? Why must I be blind? Darkness is so frightening, Lord, and I am lost, lost in my blindness. Is it your desire, Lord, to glorify your light through my blindness? I could barely, Lord, cling to you with my fingers of faith. I am so distraught. God, help me!" If there is anyone in this church today who has never felt this way, consider yourself blessed.
On the other hand, if there is someone present who is struggling with abandonment, loneliness, rejection, despair or who is aching because of the imminent death of a loved one, don't be afraid to cry, "My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me?" Pray with hope. Pray this prayer with fervor. Pray it with passion because it is a very holy prayer. It is the prayer of Jesus who divested Himself of His divine glory to become a human person like you and me and who struggled like you and me.
His struggle with His imminent death coupled with the many indignities to which He was subjected plunged Him into depression. Even though His mother and His friends were at His side, He felt so very much alone. No wonder He cried, "My God!! My God! Why have You abandoned Me?"
My friends, Jesus certainly knew darkness. He knew the darkness of abandonment, depression, despair, of rejection and pain. And even though, all kinds of darkness surrounded Scull Hill on the first Good Friday, darkness did not blind Jesus to what His death would accomplish and darkness did not blind Jesus to the truth. And what is the truth? The truth is that God loved the world so much that He sent His only son into the world to redeem it so that you and I might have eternal life.
Let us now take a moment to recall the wounded and blood-stained face of Jesus as He hung upon the cross. O my friends, look at the face of our crucified Lord. Tell me, is this the face of one absorbed in self pity. Of course not. It is the face of one absorbed in loving, unconditional, unselfish, redemptive loving. And because Jesus loved so deeply He freely broke open the bread of His life and shared the depth of His pain with His Father. I believe that when love and pain embrace absence is not true absence. It becomes a felt presence, a felt presence of a love beyond all telling. And I believe it was this felt presence of his Father's love that prompted Jesus to pray, "My God! My God! Why have you abandoned Me? "
Friends, Hildegard, a German mystic once wrote that each of us is embraced with the arms of the mystery of God. Each of us, each of us is embraced with the arms of this mystery of God.
And so my friends, whenever you struggle with abandonment, depression, loneliness, despair, remember you are so loved by God. And remember you are embraced with the arms of this tremendous love. Tell me, is there a better place from which to cry "My God! My God! Why have you abandoned Me?" I don't believe so. I really don't believe so.Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF