"In our relationship with the Lord, in front of the most difficult and painful situations, when it seems that God does not listen, we need not fear to entrust to Him all the weight we carry in our hearts, we must not be afraid to cry out to Him in our suffering", said Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday as he continued his series of lessons on Christ’s prayer in his General Audience, this week focusing on the cry of Jesus from the Cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
He said : “This cry comes after a three-hour period when there was darkness over the whole land. Darkness is an ambivalent symbol in the Bible – while it is frequently a sign of the power of evil, it can also serve to express a mysterious divine presence. Just as Moses was covered in the dark cloud when God appeared to him on the mountain, so Jesus on Calvary is wrapped in darkness. Even though the Father appears to be absent, in a mysterious way his loving gaze is focussed upon the Son’s loving sacrifice on the Cross.
In comments in Italian Pope Benedict said: “Jesus prays at the time of ultimate rejection by men, at the time of abandonment; he prays, however, aware of the presence of God the Father in this hour in which he feels the human drama of death. But we wonder: how could a God so powerful not intervene to save his Son from this terrible ordeal? It is important to understand that the prayer of Jesus is not the cry of one who goes to meet death with despair, nor is it the cry of one who knows himself to be abandoned. Jesus then makes his Psalm 22, the Psalm of the people of Israel that suffers, and in this way not only takes upon Himself the punishment of his people, but also that of all men who suffer from the oppression of evil and at the same time, brings all of this to the heart of God himself in the certainty that his cry will be heard in the resurrection”.
“This prayer of Jesus encloses the utmost confidence and abandonment in God's hands, even when He seems absent, even when He seems to remain silent, according to a design that is incomprehensible to us. His is a suffering in communion with us and for us, that comes from love and already carries within redemption, the victory of love”.
The Holy Father concluded: “Dear friends, in prayer we bring our daily crosses to God, in the certainty that He is present and hears us. The cry of Jesus reminds us that in prayer we must overcome the barriers of our "self" and our problems and open ourselves to the needs and suffering of others. The prayer of the dying Jesus on the Cross teaches us to pray with love for so many brothers and sisters who feel the weight of everyday life, who are experiencing difficult moments, who are in pain, without a word of comfort, so that they too can feel the love of the God who never abandons”.
Following his catechesis Pope Benedict launched an appeal for all the victims of a deadly cold snap that has gripped much of Europe this week: “In recent weeks a wave of cold and frost has swept some regions of Europe causing great inconvenience and considerable damage. I wish to express my closeness to people affected by this intense bad weather, while I invite prayers for the victims and their families. At the same time I encourage solidarity so that those who are suffering from these tragic events are generously supported”.
And finally he had greetings for pilgrims present in the Paul VI hall: “I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including groups from England, Ireland, Norway and the United States of America. I extend a special welcome to the many students who are here, and I pray that your studies may serve to deepen your knowledge and love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Whatever darkness you experience in your lives, may you always remain firm in faith, hope and love. May God bless all of you!”