Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord
March 25, 2018 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E.

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In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Ps 22:8).

Some weeks ago, I watched a movie about Edith Stein, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. She was born into a Jewish family in Germany. By her teenage years, she had become an atheist. While she was a professor of philosophy, she converted to Catholicism. Later, she entered the Carmelite order. In retaliation for the position of the Dutch bishops against Nazism, all the Jewish converts to Catholicism in Holland were deported to concentration camps. In 1942, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross died as a martyr in Auschwitz.

She had experienced the silence of God. As a former atheist, she knew what it is to live without God. She had lived the emptiness of a life without meaning and the anguish of being alone. After her conversion, she found peace for her soul and the truth she was seeking. However, she continued to experience God’s silence in her mother’s opposition to her conversion, the dark night of the senses of a Carmelite mystic and, finally, her martyrdom during the Holocaust.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Jesus’ cry on the cross expressed his total identification with human experience. Who among us has never felt abandoned by God? Who among us has never felt the silence of God?

Pope Benedict wrote the following in his second book about Jesus: “He identifies himself […] with all who suffer under ‘God’s darkness’; he takes their cry, their anguish, all their helplessness upon himself—and in so doing he transforms it” (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week).

“He transforms it.” In Jesus, all human suffering and anguish can be transformed. Jesus’ cross opens our hearts to hope. Contemplating Jesus hanging on the cross, we learn that silence and abandonment precede a great encounter.

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Jesus hanging on the  cross recites Psalm 22. The psalm starts with the experience of abandonment but later says: “For he has not spurned or disdained the misery of this poor wretch, did not turn away from me, but heard me when I cried out” (Ps 22:25). Jesus did not have time to say these words. These words would be said three days later.

Let us ask for the celebration of Holy Week to help us be certain that God hears our cry.  Amen.

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