“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” The words reverberate in the air. They are the words of an innocent and suffering person who does not understand and has, for the moment, lost all hope as we listen to them in Psalm 22. They are the final words of our Lord Jesus, as he takes on the full weight of all our sinfulness. Jesus always looked back to the teachings of the prophets and the psalms as he instructed and informed the present and the future. For one final time, in his final cry, he points to the Psalmist’s cry – and provides an answer. I do not abandon you – I save you, offer you redemption and eternal salvation. Jesus gives meaning to the suffering each of us endures – the crosses we must come to bear. It is the ultimate trust – all must be abandoned and turned over to God – control is out of our hands – and at that moment, we come to understand the immense love and mercy of God.
As Vincentians, I suspect we have all faced painful times in our lives when we have momentarily felt abandoned and had to bear crosses that may have felt unbearable. It is precisely at these times that God walks most closely with us. At the time, it is hard to see and understand, but over time, with the help of others, we come to see God’s mercy in our suffering. We provide that support, helping to carry the cross for those we minister to. It is through our eyes that they can begin to see the hope through the darkness. Am I prepared to sacrifice, to step into service as Simon the Cyrenian did, to help others to carry their crosses? Will they see through me the presence of God in their lives? Will they feel His mercy and compassion? Am I willing to share in their suffering as Jesus accepting mine?
Lord Jesus, help me to see your face, hear your voice and feel your presence in the darkness of my despair. Help me to humbly be your presence to others as they struggle. Give me the grace to accept all circumstances you place before me – both mine and those of others – that I follow your will as you would have me. We pray all of this in your name. Amen