Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Seven Last Words: Utter Abandonment

This continues a series of short meditations upon the statements made while Jesus hung on the Cross.

++++++++++

"Eli, Eli, lema sabacthani?" ("My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?") (Matthew 27:46b; cf. Psalm 22:2)

When the crowd heard this from Jesus, they responded by saying He was invoking Elijah. They must have forgotten Him saying there was Someone greater than Elijah amongst them. They also must have forgotten this was the opening line of a Psalm surely heard at times in their synagogues.

While all words in the Bible lead to the Word, some more than others point directly to Him. Psalm 22 is a case in point. Still a Teacher, still calling out to Israel to see Him as He truly is--their redeemer, Jesus leaves no stone unturned as His humanity begins to drain away. Indeed, as He said earlier in His ministry, this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.

Yet, how eerily these words echo in Heaven as well as on earth. A member of the Trinity, a union of Perfect Love, wondering out loud if He is no longer part of Them. Has God rejected Himself? The Begotten Son, forgotten? The Beloved, unloved? We can't fathom it.

Such is the Paschal Mystery. We can find the paradoxes. There are times when we seek answers to those contradictory questions. But, as Fr. John Powell, SJ, wrote in several of his books, we need to seek not peace of mind, but rather peace of heart. "Then God's own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)

Perhaps, Jesus thought of another passage to help His align His will to the Father's in this time of seemingly utter abandonment. It is a quote to quiet our souls and asks us to trust in the One Who is worthy of that trust. Maybe, just maybe, it helped Him in this moment.

"Be still, and know that I am God."