Speak Lord: Alone

Crucifix II, The Church of the Ark , Nowa Huta.jpg

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 Responsorial Psalm at Mass today, the last Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday, places on our lips Jesus’ prayer at the Cross: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

It is a cry of desolation – but note the progression of the psalm. The psalmist begins in desolation at finding himself abandoned by God. There is no denying the agony he experiences, but neither does he stay there – he moves (and the move is more clearly described in the full psalm) to a renewed faith in God and in his future.

The Passion narrative at Mass today ends with Jesus being buried. And then? What next? We wait to see, as so often we have to do in life. But the thrust of the Liturgy is to help us deepen our faith and love of God, and to better, more faithfully, deal with the challenges of life as we experience them.

  • Where might you feel alone abandoned?
  • Why?
  • How might God, unnoticed, be there?

Detail of Crucifix, Church of Nowa Huta, Cracow, Poland. (c) 2013, Allen Morris

 

Taste and See: At one with Christ

Fresco AssisiThe Responsorial Psalm for the Mass of Palm Sunday invited us into an intimate sharing in the Lord’s faith – his experience of challenge and fear, his experience of trust and faith.

It is, of course, a psalm prayed by Jesus on the Cross.

It is a prayer that draws us into the central mystery of Holy Week.

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

Each disciple is called to follow Jesus. The call finds a vivid depiction in the fresco reproduced above. The example of St Francis is a great inspiration to such a careful imitation of the Lord.

What is equally true is that the Lord accompanies us in our struggles.

In our praying of Holy Week we are invited to find a deeper communion with the Lord and a sharing of life, love, even suffering with him.

  • What in your life do you find easy to share with the Lord?
  • What do you seek to keep to yourself, even hide from him?
  • What does the Lord seek to share with you?
  • What do you welcome? And what do you resist?

 Photograph is of fresco in the basilica of St Francis, Assisi. (c) 2014, Allen Morris

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