Even Jesus asked: Why? For centuries saints, theologians, scholars and mystics have pondered this heart-rending cry wrung from the Crucified. Generations of Christians have paused in silence to ponder the mystery of God's Son, dying pain-racked and forsaken. Jesus' praying the first verse of Psalm 22 invites even those who are distant from God to draw near to Him who has plumbed the abyss of human suffering. The CATECHISM declares: In the redeeming love that always united Him to the Father, Jesus assumed us in the state of our waywardness of sin to the point where He could say in our name from the Cross: My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? (#603)

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St. Francis of Assisi saw Psalm 22 as THE prayer of Jesus Crucified. The Little Poor Man quotes from Psalm 22 thirteen times in the opening section of his devotional Office of the Passion. Francis' heart overflowed with compassion for the suffering Savior, scorned, despised and derided. He envisioned Jesus, bound and imprisoned, thinking of His Mother: Yes, it was You who took me from my mother's womb, entrusted me to my mother's breast. To You I was committed from my birth, from my mother's womb You have been my God. The call of the desolate Christ: Do not leave me alone... come close, became Francis' own.

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So deeply had the Seraphic Patriarch penetrated Psalm 22, so alive was his faith and so alert his love for his suffering Lord that the early biographers tell us: Even for worms [Francis] had a tender love, since he had read this text about the Savior: I am a worm and not a man. That is why he used to pick them up from the road and put them in a safe place so that they would not be crushed by the footsteps of passersby. (Friar Thomas of Celano, THE LIFE OF ST. FRANCIS)

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A Lenten psalm, a Holy Week psalm, a Friday psalm —Psalm 22 offers us an opportunity to go deeper into the mystery of our Lord's Passion. It enables us not only to put on the mind of Christ but also to enter directly into the prayer of Christ at the culmination of His mission on earth. In times of personal suffering, it is a reminder that we are not alone and that every great Why can be the start of a life-giving dialogue because, like Jesus, we are speaking to Someone — and that Someone always answers!




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Psalm 22

 

 

 

My God,

my God,

why have You

forsaken me?

You are far from my plea

and the cry of my distress.

0 my God, I call by day

and You give no reply;

I call by night

and I find no peace.

Yet You, 0 God, are holy,

enthroned on

the praises of Israel.

In You our fathers

put their trust;

they trusted

and You set them free.

When they cried to You,

they escaped.

In You they trusted

and never in vain.

But I am a worm and no man,

scorned by men,

despised by the people.

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."

Yes, it was You

who took me

from my mother's womb,

entrusted me

to my mother's breast.

To You I was committed

from my birth,

from my mother's womb

You have been my God.

Do not leave me alone

in my distress;

come close,

there is none else to help.



 

The Great "Why?"
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice:
"My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" 
Matt. 27:46
PART 26