Fourth Word: My God! My God! Why have You Forsaken Me?
Fourth Word: My God! My God! Why have You Forsaken Me?
The first three words from the pulpit of the Cross were addressed to the three predilections of God: enemies, sinners and saints. The next two words, the fourth and the fifth, betray the sufferings of the God-Man on the Cross. The fourth word symbolizes the sufferings of those abandoned by God; the fifth word the sufferings of God abandoned by man.
When Our Blessed Lord spoke this fourth word from the Cross, darkness covered the earth. It is a common remark that nature is indifferent to our griefs. A nation may be dying of famine, yet the sun starts and plays upon the stricken fields. Brothers may rise up against brother in a war which turns poppy fields into Haceldamas of blood; yet a bird, safe from the fire and shell, chants its little song of peace. Hearts may be broken by the loss of friend; yet a rainbow leaps with joy across the heavens,
making a terrible contrast between its smile and the agony it shines upon.But the sun refused to shine on the crucifixion!The light that rules the day, probably for the first and last time in history was snuffed out like a a candle when, according to every human calculation, it should have continued to shine. The reason was that the crowning could not pass without a protest from nature itself. If the soul of God were in darkness, so should be the sun which He had made.
Truly, all was darkness! He had given up His Mother and His beloved disciple, and now His Heavenly Father seemingly abandoned Him. "Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani?" "My God! My God! Why have You forsaken Me?" It is a cry in the mysterious language of Hebrew to express the tremendous mystery of a God "abandoned" by God. The Son calls His Father, God. What a contrast with a prayer He once taught: "Our Father, Who art in Heaven!" In some strange, mysterious way His human nature seems separated from His Heavenly Father, and yet not separated, for otherwise how could He cry, "My God, My God"? But just as the sun's light and heat can be withdrawn from us by the intervening clouds, though the sun remains in the sky, so there was a kind of withdrawal of His Father's Face in the terrible moment in which He took upon Himself the sins of the world. This pain and desolation He suffered for each of us, that we might know what a terrible thing it is for human nature to be without God, to be deprived of a Divine Remedy and Consolation. It was the supreme act of atonement for three classes of people: those who abandon God, those who doubt the presence of God, and those who are indifferent to God.
He atoned first of all for atheists, for those who on that dark midday half believed in God, as even now at night they half believe in Him. He atoned also for those who know God, but live as if they never heard His name; for those whose hearts are like waysides on which God's love falls only to be trampled by the world; for those whose hearts are like rocks on which the seed of God's love falls only to be quickly forgotten; for those whose hearts are like thorns on which God's love descends only to be chocked by the cares of the world. It was atonement for all who have had faith and lost it; for all who once were saints and now are sinners. It was the Divine Act of Redemption for all abandonment of God, for in that moment in which He was forgotten, He purchased for us the grace of never being forgotten by God.
It was also the atonement for that other class who deny the presence of God; for all those Christians who abandon all effort when they cannot feel God near them; for all identify being good with feeling good; for all those sceptics beginning with the first who asked, "Why has God commanded you?" It was reparation for all the haunting questions of a doubting world:
"Why is there evil?"
"Why does God not answer my prayers?"
"Why did God take away my mother?"
And the reparation for all those queries was made when God asked a "why" of God.
Finally, it was atonement for all the indifference of the world which lives as if there had never been a crib at Bethlehem for all who shake dice while the drama of Redemption is being enacted; for all those who feel themselves as gods beyond all duties of worship and religion, yet bound by none. I suppose that after these twenty centuries the indifference of our modern world is more torturing and crucifying than the pains of Calvary. One can well believe that a crown of thorns, and that steel nails were less terrible to the flesh of our Saviour than our modern indifference which neither scorns nor prays to the Heart of Christ.
Jesus! You are now atoning for those moments when we are neither hot nor cold, members neither of heaven nor of earth, for now You are suffering between the two: rejected by the one, abandoned by the other. Because You would not give up sinful humanity, Your Heavenly Father hid His Face from You. Because You would not give up Your Heavenly Father, sinful humanity turned its back on You, and thus in holy fellowship You found a way to unite us both. No longer can anyone say that God does not know what a heart suffers in abandonment, for now You are abandoned. No longer can anyone complain that God does not know the wounds of an inquiring heart which feels not the Divine Presence, for now that sweet Presence is seemingly hid from You as well. Jesus, now I understand pain, abandonment, and suffering, for I see that even the sun has its eclipse. But Jesus, why do I not learn? Teach me that just as You did not make Your own Cross, neither shall I make my own. Teach me to accept the one that You have made for me. Teach me that everything in the world is Yours, except one thing, and that is my own will; and since that is mine, it it the only real and true gift that I can ever bestow. Teach me to say, "Not my will, but Yours be done, O Lord." Even when I see You not, grant me the grace to believe and "although You slay me. yet will I trust You." Tell me, how long, how long, O Lord, will I keep You writhing on the Cross?