Speak Lord: In agony of faith

Iglesia del Salvador (Albaicin, Granada)The Responsorial Psalm for the Mass of Palm Sunday draws us into a detailed consideration of the agony of Jesus persecuted and crucified.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

All who see me deride me.
They curl their lips, they toss their heads.
‘He trusted in the Lord, let him save him;
let him release him if this is his friend.’

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Many dogs have surrounded me,
a band of the wicked beset me.
They tear holes in my hands and my feet
I can count every one of my bones.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

They divide my clothing among them.
They cast lots for my robe.
O Lord, do not leave me alone,
my strength, make haste to help me!

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

I will tell of your name to my brethren
and praise you where they are assembled.
‘You who fear the Lord give him praise;
all sons of Jacob, give him glory.
Revere him, Israel’s sons.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Psalm 21:8-9,17-20,23-24

The response to the psalm, verse one of the canonical psalm, appears on the lips of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. The verse, spoken by Jesus, is often taken out of its original context and so understood as an expression of agonised abandonment only.

Yet as the extract from the psalm featured in the Mass shows, the ‘narrative’ of the psalm confronts the agony of the man and shows a move from awareness of being alone, isolated in the attack of his enemies, to a full and equal awareness of being not abandoned by God. Rather than being lost to God, he is sustained by God who will rescue him, save him from death, and restore him to the assembly of the faithful, where he will sing the praises of God.

In the 1000 year old psalm Jesus finds the narrative to sustain and express faith, even, especially, in the agony of his Passion.

  • What in our pain helps us remember we are remembered by God?
  • How do we use that knowledge for the benefit of others?
  • In our liturgy and devotional practices how do we give space to express pain, hurt and loss, and assist people’s deeper integration into the community of faith?

 Photograph is of crucifix in Iglesia del Salvador (Albaicin, Granada). (c) 2014, Allen Morris

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