Homily for February 2018 Holy Hour
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24
2 Corinthians 12:1-10
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Have you ever felt so abandoned that you cried out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
If you have you, you would not be the first. These words come to us from Psalm 22, written a few centuries before Jesus came. Whatever suffering led the psalmist to utter these words, the psalm prophesized about what will happen to Jesus. He will be mocked. His hands and feet will be pierced by the nails on the Cross. They will divide his garments between them.
Jesus’ Passion should not have surprised anyone. He himself told his disciples three times that he would be arrested and crucified. This suffering was long foretold in scripture like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 52-53, one of four suffering servant oracles.
This passage provides vivid imagery of the suffering that Jesus will endure, “marred was his look beyond human semblance and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man.”
Why? Why did Jesus suffer?
Crucifixion was considered the most humiliating form of execution, reserved only for the worst of criminals yet Pilate himself said to the people regarding Jesus, “What evil has this man done? I found him guilty of no capital crime.”
Jesus was innocent. Isaiah even prophecies about the suffering servant’s innocence, saying, “though he had done no wrong.”
Again, Isaiah provides an answer, six hundred years before Jesus. “We had all gone astray like sheep.” “It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured….pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins.”
What Jesus did, he did for us.
His suffering was so great that he cried out on the Cross, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me.” Yet, he knew this had to be. After he celebrated the Last Supper, he went into the garden to pray, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus accepted his Cross.
I want to turn now to our Stations of the Cross. We can see them depicted on the walls of our church. There are a total of fourteen stations depicting what Jesus went through in his Passion for us. What I said was prophesized in Psalm 22 and the suffering servant oracles in Isaiah is found in the Stations.
In the first station Jesus is condemned to death. I’ve already talked about his innocence compared to our guilt.
In the second station Jesus accepts his Cross. He knows what is coming but he accepts it for us.
In stations three, seven, and nine, Jesus falls three times under the weight of the Cross. It is a great weight to bear but he does it for us.
How many times do we fall? The fall we need to be concerned about is our fall from grace to sin. Our falls are the sins for which Jesus is condemned.
Do we accept our own cross even when it seems too heavy to bear?
If Jesus struggled on the Cross, how are we supposed to survive our sufferings?
With Jesus’ help. First, because of Jesus’ suffering, we have a God who knows what it is like to suffer. Jesus walks hand in hand with us through our sufferings.
Secondly, right before his arrest, Jesus gave us a gift that nourishes our souls so that we can have the strength we need. That gift is the bread and wine that he transubstantiated into his Body and Blood. He feeds us with the Bread of Life.
This is the Eucharist before us in the monstrance on the altar. It is Jesus.
So, in a moment, we will turn to silence. It’s Lent, a time to think about our sins and what we need to change in our lives. Listen to what Jesus tells us in the silence.
Think about your sufferings. How can you offer them up as Jesus offered up his own suffering for us? The Journey to Jesus comes with suffering. May we be lead on our way by our God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.