In his book, The Ignatian Adventure, Kevin O’Brien, SJ, writes:
In the third week of the Exercises, Ignatius invites us to consider how Jesus’ divinity ‘hides itself’ (SE 196). We must not easily explain away the suffering we encounter. Jesus is not merely playacting his way through a passion play. We must take Jesus’ humanity seriously enough to realize just how much he loves us. (227)
In what moment is Jesus’ divinity more hidden than that poignant moment in which he cries out from the Cross in anguish, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In our deepest suffering, we cry out to God. Jesus, in his humanity, understands the place from which these anguished cries arise. Despite his pain though, through his pain, Jesus still teaches us how to pray. When he cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” he doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t worry about offending God. He speaks from his heart—simply and sincerely—and, in so doing, demonstrates the way in which we should pray when we are suffering.
Jesus also teaches us that when we call out to God and aren’t immediately rescued, when we don’t hear an immediate response from the clouds, God is still there and God is still trustworthy. After Jesus asked the Father why he had forsaken him, he did not despair. Rather, he trusted the Father and his plans to his last breath as he cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
As we embark upon the final days of our Lenten journey, Jesus’ final words present powerful opportunities for reflection. We might ask ourselves:
- Do I remember that I can share everything with God, even my doubts and fears? Do I remember that I can speak with God simply and sincerely without fear of offending him?
- Even when I do not observe immediate answers to my prayers, do I trust that God hears my prayers?
- Unlike the first disciples, we know that the Crucifixion is not the end of the story. We know that after every Good Friday comes an Easter. When I look back upon my own life, can I identify any difficult “Good Friday moments” that have been followed by an “Easter”? What Good Friday situations do I hold in my heart right now for which I am trusting God shall send me an Easter?
Bring your Good Friday moments to Jesus, and leave them at the foot of the Cross. He’s dying to take care of them for you. Feel the weight lift off your shoulders. Easter is coming.