Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why hast Thou foresaken Me?

Head of Christ Crowned With Thorns
(Guido Reni)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying: Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? that is, "My God, My God: Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" (St. Matthew 27:46)
In a homily delivered at Santa Marta today, Pope Francis posed the following rhetorical question:
Is it blasphemy when Jesus complains: "Father, why have You forsaken me"? This is the mystery. I have often listened to people who are experiencing difficult and painful situations, who have lost a great deal or feel lonely and abandoned and they come to complain and ask these questions: Why? Why? They rebel against God. And I say, "Continue to pray just like this, because this is a prayer." It was a prayer when Jesus said to his father: "Why  have You forsaken me"!
In my dealings with people - both Catholic as well as non-Catholic - I've heard the question raised many times: Why did Our Lord say those words? Was He abandoned by His Father? Was He doubting His divine mission? Was He rebelling against God? Did He lose hope? Did He lose faith?

Every time, the person asking me is absolutely stunned when I tell them the following: Our Lord was quoting Sacred Scripture. Seriously. Every time. It's one of the most well-known passages from Scripture, and yet apparently a huge number of people have no idea that Our Lord was quoting King David.

To fully appreciate the meaning of these words, and just how amazingly appropriate they were, the entire psalm is presented below:

Psalm 21

  1. Unto the end, for the morning protection: a psalm for David.
  2. O God, My God, look upon Me: why hast Thou forsaken Me? Far from My salvation are the words of My sins.*
  3. O My God, I shall cry by day, and Thou wilt not hear: and by night, and it shall not be reputed as folly in Me.
  4. But Thou dwellest in the holy place, the praise of Israel.
  5. In Thee have our fathers hoped: they have hoped, and Thou hast delivered them.
  6. They cried to Thee, and they were saved: they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded. 
  7. But I am a worm, and no man: the reproach of men, and the outcast of the people.
  8. All they that saw Me have laughed Me to scorn: they have spoken with the lips, and wagged the head.
  9. "He hoped in the Lord, let Him deliver Him: let Him save Him, seeing He delighteth in Him."
  10. For Thou art He that hast drawn Me out of the womb: My hope from the breasts of My mother.
  11. I was cast upon Thee from the womb. From My mother's womb: Thou art My God,
  12. Depart not from Me. For tribulation is very near: for there is none to help Me.
  13. Many calves have surrounded Me: fat bulls have besieged Me.
  14. They have opened their mouths against Me, as a lion ravening and roaring.
  15. I am poured out like water; and all My bones are scattered. My heart is become like wax melting in the midst of My bowels.
  16. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and My tongue hath cleaved to My jaws: and Thou hast brought Me down into the dust of death.
  17. For many dogs have encompassed Me: the council of the malignant hath besieged Me. They have pierced My hands and feet.
  18. They have numbered all My bones. And they have looked and stared upon Me.
  19. They parted My garments amongst them; and upon My vesture they cast lots.
  20. But Thou, O Lord, remove not Thy help to a distance from Me; look towards My defence.
  21. Deliver, O God, My soul from the sword: My only one from the hand of the dog.
  22. Save Me from the lion's mouth; and My lowness from the horns of the wild oxen.
  23. I will declare Thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the Church will I praise Thee.
  24. Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him: all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify Him.
  25. Let all the seed of Israel fear Him: because He hath not slighted nor despised the supplication of the poor man. Neither hath He turned away His face from Me: and when I cried to Him, He heard Me.
  26. With Thee is My praise in a great Church: I will pay My vows in the sight of them that fear Him.
  27. The poor shall eat and shall be filled: and they shall praise the Lord that seek Him: their hearts shall live for ever and ever.
  28. All the ends of the earth shall remember, and shall be converted to the Lord: And all the kindreds of the Gentiles shall adore in His sight.
  29. For the kingdom is the Lord's; and He shall have dominion over the nations.
  30. All the fat ones of the earth have eaten and have adored: all they that go down to the earth shall fall before Him.
  31. And to Him My soul shall live: and My seed shall serve Him.
  32. There shall be declared to the Lord a generation to come: and the heavens shall shew forth His justice to a people that shall be born, which the Lord hath made.

By quoting the first line of a psalm very well-known to those gathered at the foot of the Cross, Our Lord, while suffering the zenith of His Passion and struggling for His last pained breaths, was not rebelling against His Father or crying out in despair; He was making a most powerful proclamation of His victory over sin and death, and speaking His blessing upon the Church which would carry His Gospel to the ends of the earth. Deo gratias!

*"words of My sins": That is, the sins of the world, which I have taken upon myself, cry out against me, and are the cause of all my sufferings. (Douay-Rheims Commentary)

1 comment:

  1. Yes, thanks for pointing this out. We pray that psalm at Prime for Fridays. It is actually a very consoling psalm because Jesus wins!!


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