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

Throughout His recorded life, Jesus seems to have enjoyed unimpeded access to the Father’s presence.  Their relationship was one of immediate and continual communication.  He “heard” what the Father said and spoke those words for our behalf.  He “saw” what the Father was doing and acted accordingly.   Though fully human, Jesus enjoyed an enviable and constant communication with His Father.  
But this access seemed to be eclipsed on the cross when Jesus went blind with regards to the divine intimacy He otherwise knew.  The ways by which He had always communicated with His Father no longer seemed to apply.  For the first time in His earthly life, He felt estranged from the Trinity.  Though He sought the familiar gaze of His parent, Jesus could no longer find Him.  And from the darkness of His disorientation, He cried the most poignant words of human desolation, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”    

St. John of the Cross describes a lesser, though similar phenomenon that happens to many in their spiritual lives where, inexplicably, the familiar means of engagement that they have known with God no longer seem to apply.  He calls it the “dark night of the soul” and says the experience is “as if God has placed a cloud in front of the eyes of the soul so that it feels as though none of its prayers can pierce it.”  He adds,

All their efforts are in vain because God is taking them down another road, the road of contemplation, which is so different from the first road of meditation and human action.

The dark night purifies our faith by making us more dependant on God’s initiative than on our own.  Stripped of all guarantees that are rooted in the self, we are left with only one way forward—through faith in the unexpected ways God is leading us.  It would seem that Jesus as well had to experience the same blind faith that is ultimately required of each of us.

From His first cry of forsakenness, it is easy to speculate that our Lord never recovered His sense of the Father’s nearness.  Staring into the lonely darkness that was about to receive Him, Jesus nevertheless spoke the most faith-filled words that any of us can utter in such circumstances: “Father, into your hands, I commit my Spirit” (Lk. 23:46). 

We too will often experience a form of spiritual blindness where we will have no other choice but to throw ourselves into the arms of God.  Such times will force us to exercise a more pure faith, fixing our eyes not on what is seen but on the unseen hands of the One to whom we commit our spirits.  The wisdom of such an option is what Jesus modeled for us on the cross, and its reward is what the Father affirmed in Christ’s resurrection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Rob Des Cotes 

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