With His first Word from the Cross, Our Lord Jesus Christ prayed “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. Thus, He begins His crucifixion emphasizing the merciful aspect of God, our Heavenly Father. In the second Word, He rewarded Dismas, the repentant thief. Then, with the third Word, He entrusted His Mother to John, and thus to us, and entrusts us to her. We take note that this Word alone binds every follower of Christ to defend the honor of the most Blessed Virgin Mary. Think for yourselves the dismal situation today, in this bitter passion of the Church.
After these first three Words, comes the fourth, which breaks upon us like a storm at dawn, when the sun’s light is withdrawn and the lightning illumines the torrents of rain and the wind-whipped trees.
“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”
At this very hour, at this very Word, the darkness of the eclipse began to ease. In Father Groenings’ words, it “marked a turning point in which error’s shadow was to recede before truth, and the day of salvation was to begin.
My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
How are we to understand such a complaint? Is Christ doubting His Father? Modernists have implied such. What is the truth?
In the first place, we note that while His first Word from the Cross was from the Son of God to His Father, this fourth Word is from Christ the Son of Man to God. Again, we turn to Father Groenings:
The abandonment by God of Christ’s human nature was not a separation of the latter from the second Person of God. For the union of the second Person of the Godhead with Christ’s human nature was and is inseparable. If this union had been dissolved at the death of Christ, then not God, but a mere man would have died for us, and our redemption would not be accomplished.
Neither was the abandonment by God of the human nature in Christ a withdrawal of grace. On the contrary, the plenitude of grace at all times existing in Christ effected that fortitude which bore Him up on the cross as it had done in the Garden of Olives. The abandonment, finally, did not consist in depriving the soul of Christ for a time of the direct vision of God. Christ rather complained, not only that God refused to preserve His human nature from impending death, but also that He abandoned it to suffering without the least solace whatever.
For His human nature might have been relieved in a twofold way;
First, through a direct action on all that contributed to make it suffer: sparing Him the sensible pain of the thorns, the nails and the scourges, and the interior pain of the mockery and humiliations of the crucifixion.
Secondly, God could have filled the soul of Christ with such consolation that He would not have felt external pain. This was done for many of the martyrs, who rejoiced even as they endured torture for Christ.
However, nothing of the kind happened, On the contrary, God abandoned the soul of Christ to repugnance, to fear, to sadness and to the excruciating knowledge that His Passion would be useless to so many human beings. God even allowed Satan whose hour was at hand, to use this time of sufferings to cruelly torture the Soul of Christ. Indeed, the only assistance God gave was to allow Christ’s human nature the strength to sustain it in order to prolong His suffering.
This was the object and the cause of Christ’s plaintive reproach. And we know that Christ gave the full consent of His Will to this abandonment.
No matter how painful this abandonment by God was to the Saviour, He did not, in those moments, suffer the abandonment of the damned in hell, as Calvin, the gloomy heretic, maintains. Not at all. The abandonment of the damned is without hope and full of despair. Not so the abandonment of the Redeemer. For this fourth Word quotes from the opening lines of the 21st Psalm, and “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” is followed by “Far from my salvation are the words of my sins. ”
And so we understand the reason Christ for this fourth Word, so loudly cried out:
First he was impelled by the humility of His Heart. This humility urged Him to perform, before His demise, the most heroic act of self-humiliation. by complaining of being abandoned by God, He, as it were, abandoned Himself. It was the greatest act of self-abasement and of self-renunciation imaginable. By this self-abasement, by this obscuring of His Divinity, of His Divine Power and Sanctity, the Redeemer would atone fully for the pride and self-deification of our first parents, which had brought all evil into the world.
Then He uttered the plaint for our manifold instruction. Lest we believe in error, that He was insensible to pain, He must allow us to see the very depths of His agonizing death. For it would be a terrible error to assume that the soul of Christ in these final hours was plunged into some sort of heavenly consolation, Christ illustrates with a loud cry the enormity of His soul’s sufferings.
“Far from my salvation are the words of my sins”. This verse illustrates that the sins of the world which have been assumed by our Savior are the cause of all His suffering, and most especially is He suffering the sinner’s estrangement from God. In this, we see vividly the eternal damnation of those who die in their sins, doomed to an eternity of separation from the light and grace of God. Christ also wished, with this fourth word to show us our own state when we have allowed our sins to separate us from God. Too often, we become accustomed to our life of sin, “comfortably numb”. This numbness is but a flimsy bandage over a purulent wound eating away at our souls, a wound that will fester in our souls eternally if we do not arise from our numbness, our dull complacency and realize how sick at heart and soul our sins have made us.
Jesus calls us in this Word to realize that our estrangement from God is not that He has abandoned us, but that in our sins, we have abandoned Him. The moment that we do this, we cry out, My God, my God, why have I forsaken Thee! Let this then, be our response to this fourth Word from the Crucified One.
And lastly, for our consolation. Christ our Savior by this Word intimates to those who will follow Him that they too must suffer through the periods of dryness in which the sweetness of His presence is withdrawn. As a child must be weaned and must learn to walk on his own, so must we learn to progress to Our Lord by seeking Him through the dark cold and the empty desolation. It is indeed, in this bleak desolation that we find our true strength which is in bending our will to follow the “unknown God”, not the God of sensible delights, sweet ecstasies of prayer, but the God of the ruins, of utter desolation. And that is the lesson for us today, as all sweetness and joy passes from us.
In this dark, cold desolation, we feel that God has forsaken us. We feel most poignantly His abandonment of the Church, seemingly left in the hands of the ancient enemy which has sown rank weeds, bearing foul and putrid fruit in the once lovely garden of the faith. What are we to do?
If we are honest we will add with Christ, “Far from my salvation are the words of my sins.” We are not favored to experience Christ’s wounds in our body as Padre Pio did. No, our cross is to bear the sufferings, the humiliations brought to us by our sins and the sins of the leaders of the Church today. We cannot be like sedevacantists, and deny that these are our leaders. We sadly grasp the fact that this disgusting corruption of the papacy and the weak effeminacy of our leaders is a punishment for our sins, the sins of the world. Just as Jesus bore the sins of the world, which caused Him to cry out from the Cross, we too must bear the sins of those who lead the Church today.
We must awaken from the comfortable numbness with which we enshroud ourselves, awaken to the desolation of this world’s separation for God. See the dizzying chasm opened before us! See the danger!
Today, we realize the abandonment, the isolation, devastation of this Godless world embodied in the man who presents himself as the Vicar of Christ. We begin to realize that we have all distanced ourselves from God, and driven Him from us. Consequently, He has withdrawn His saving grace from the world. Let us cry out to God with the loud voice of prayer and of works of penance, and He, then, will disperse the dark clouds and again turn to us, in generous torrents of grace and mercy, healing us, healing the Church and healing this poor sad world.
The above meditation is an adaptation from Father James Groenings’ “The Passion of Jesus and its hidden meaning”.
Thank you for reading. May the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you this Easter.
† Remember, pray the Rosary and confound the devil and all who serve him.
† Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts, Mother of the Church, do thou offer to the Eternal Father the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the conversion of poor sinners, especially our Pontiff.
† Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
† Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Thy Kingdom come! Viva Cristo Rey!
† St. Joseph, guardian of the Holy Family, protect our families, protect our priests!
† St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!
~ by evensong, for love of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of our hearts.
Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O Sacred Virgin, give me strength against thine enemies!
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