Fr Billy Swan
‘When the sixth hour came there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani’ which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Mark 15: 33-34).
Jesus is now entering his final agony. Bruised, scourged, his hands and feet ripped through with nails and fastened to a cross: the physical pain must have been beyond what anyone could bear. And yet, these words of the Lord that he cried out in agony are not words of physical pain but of mental anguish. Jesus, as he hung on the cross, was lonely. He felt abandoned by God who had been the rock of his whole life. Now, there was darkness and fear as silence reigned when the prayers of his heart received no answer. Then, in solidarity with all of those who would know such torment, Jesus cried out in the words of the Psalm ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Here is the prayer that conveys the depths of sadness, the anguish of the soul of Christ- forsaken, forgotten even by God himself. But what kind of Savior could Jesus be if he had never gone through this pain? How could he then have spoken to those who know what it is like to feel abandoned by God? God did not come to bring an end to suffering nor to explain it. He came to fill it with his presence. In his love, Jesus endured all this suffering in order to reach the lost and most abandoned so that he might offer them the same hope that led him to Easter Sunday that seemed an eternity away from this dark moment.
Also for us, when all is darkness and emptiness and God seems far away, we must not despair because no matter how far we travel down the road of intense suffering, we will find him there with us and before us: Jesus Christ, crucified and forsaken who seeks only our trusting in him, even when that trust is hard to give. But give it, and the emptiness will be filled, inner wounds healed and peace achieved.
Lord Jesus Christ, because of your agony on the cross, I believe that you understand all my troubles and sorrows. I believe that even in my darkest hour, you are there with me even if I cannot feel your presence. By your passion on the cross you entered into the heart of darkness, evil and sin. By your resurrection, your transformed the darkness into light, evil into mercy and sin into grace and blessing. Come Lord Jesus into my heart and shine your light; come into our Church and come into our world. Be with all those in agony of mind or body and help them to hope beyond their pain and so reach your infinite love. Amen.