'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'
From the cross, Christ calls out to God, his Father, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' (Mark 15:34) In this moment, Jesus, who is fully God and fully man, experiences a separation. In The Seven Last Words of Christ, Fulton Sheen says, 'the Divine Presence ['Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_] is seemingly hid from [Christ] as well.'
It's probably safe to say that we all experience moments in our lives in which we wonder where God is, whether it be through our own experiences, or as we witness the suffering of others. Sometimes God seems far from us. Sometimes it seems as if He's forsaken us completely.
When I was sixteen, my dad died from lung cancer. Both during his illness and after his death, I felt very alone, both in a worldly sense – none of my friends had lost a parent’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûùand in a spiritual sense. Part of me believed that God let my dad die, and that he'd left me alone to suffer and grieve.
That summer, I went to my first Steubenville conference, and I encountered Christ in a powerful way during adoration. I realized that Jesus had never left me alone in my grief and loneliness. Instead, He had waited for me at every Mass and in the adoration chapel.
He already knew what it was like to feel alone and abandoned, because he had been left alone to suffer and grieve on the cross. The truth of Christ's suffering on the cross is this: that 'it was [...] in that moment in which He was forgotten, He purchased for us the grace of never being forgotten by God.'
Think about it. We are never alone because Christ, who is God, came to earth and suffered in a terrible way. We always have someone on our side and in our corner, not to save us from pain and hardship, but to remind us, 'You are never alone. I know how you feel.' That is a reason for hope!
But here's the thing. On the cross, not only was Jesus seemingly abandoned by God, He was abandoned by us, too. When, after my dad died, I felt abandoned by God, I wasn't ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù Jesus had already won for me the grace to never be forgotten by Him. Instead, I abandoned Him. I tried to deal with it all on my own. I didn't let God into the deepest, most broken places of my heart for a long time.
Jesus died for us so that we would know that we are never alone, but I turned my back on Jesus by refusing to let Him carry my cross. I turned my back on Him by doubting Him, by not trusting Him, by believing that He had left me to suffer alone. What do you think caused Him more anguish ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù physical pain on the cross, or knowing that I didn't believe His love for me was enough?
This Holy Week, I invite you to examine your heart, just as I examine mine. Pray about this: When have I turned my back on Jesus? Is my faithfulness to Jesus based on what I feel? Do I trust Him even when circumstances are hard or seem impossible? When have I belittled His suffering by believing the graces He won for me are not enough?
My prayer for you this week is that you would come to know, even a little bit, how deeply you are loved by Christ, and strive to give His love to others.