Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:46
This fourth gospel from the Cross is the introductory line of Psalms 22, and thus Jesus’ cry from the Cross recalls the cry of Israel, and of all innocent persons who suffer. According to Fulton Sheen, “The fourth word symbolizes the sufferings of those abandoned by God.” Horace O. Duke wrote a book titled, “Where is God when Bad things Happen.” Brethren, there is an unhealthy dominant conspiracy in the contemporary Christianity against the teaching of the benefits suffering for the sake of the Kingdom. According to A.W. Tozer, “The prevailing religious mood is not favourable to the doctrine (of the benefits of suffering).” One of the benefit of suffering to Jesus is that, Christ learnt obedience through the things He suffered.
One way to understand this fourth gospel from the Cross is to recall the notion that these words, “My God! My God! Why have You forsaken me”, were part of a Jewish poem in the Psalms. Christ was reciting and repeating these words for the benefit of the Jewish people. Each one of them knew this verse. They knew this Psalm. So, it had an added meaning when they heard it being recited from the Cross. Almost 1000 years before this time, King David had written this Psalm. It was as well-known to every Jewish boy in much the same way that our pledge to the flag of our country is known to the boys and girls of today. The Jews knew that this Psalm ended on a note of hope.
Brethren, in truth there are believers who are experiencing serious suffering right now in their lives. The suffering you are experiencing may have made you weak in faith, or as a minister, seeing the magnitude of suffering that believers are passing through is still raising a lot of questions begging for answers. These experiences of yours are not unique to you alone, you are not alone in the suffering, and Jesus is with you. In this fourth word from the Cross, Jesus unites Himself with all believers in their sufferings and offers to us hope. Just as in Psalms 22 which Jesus was praying ended with victory and hope, so will our suffering end in victory if we remain united with Jesus as long as it lasts. A lot of believers give up on Jesus when their suffering begins to last longer than expected. We have seen when believers begin to consult satanic spiritual centers or start running from church to church just for solution to their problems. A sister seeking the fruit of the womb said this to me. “Bro. Jude, this problem has taken me to places which if I tell you, you will not believe me. In fact, and in short I have travelled far and wide”. Child of God, Jesus asked James “Can you drink from the cup of my suffering?” St. Paul asks, “What will separate you from the love of Christ?”
Today just as it was in the days of Jesus, the crowd is still asking Him, “If You are the son of God, come down from the cross? That is, “end this suffering”. However, Jesus did not end the suffering on the Cross, rather He endured it together with the thief on His right, who looked beyond the suffering and saw the glory of the kingdom. We must curb our wrong theology of “Christians are not supposed to suffer”, knowing too well that there is a glory that awaits us when we endure suffering for the sake of Jesus. There is eternal glory awaiting all those who refuse to abandon Jesus during their moment of suffering.
MASS: VIOLET Is 50:4-9a; Ps 69:8-10; 21-22. 33-34; (R. 14c, b); Mt 26:14-25 Chrism Mass Is 61:1-3a.6a.8b-9; Ps 89:21-22; 25.27; Rev 1:5-8; Lk 4:16-21
1. “O Lord, I call upon You in my time of sorrow, that You will give me the strength and will to bear my heavy burdens, until I can again feel the warmth and love of Your divine compassion. Be mindful of me and have mercy on me while I struggle to comprehend life’s hardships. Keep me ever in Your watch, till I can walk again with light heart and renewed spirit.”
Exercise: Visit the Blessed Sacrament and meditate on Psalms 22.
Meditation: Psalms 22:19-22