“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus’ cry on Good Friday still echoes in our ears. We have all felt this way. “Why did God abandon me when my parents divorced...when my Grandma died...when my son was killed...when I got cancer…?” We see violence in our schools, mass shootings, broken marriages, selfish politics, endless wars, cancer, and death. Has God abandoned us?
“Dear God, why do you allow so much violence in our schools?” - Concerned Student “Dear concerned student, I’m not allowed in schools.” - God
We have to admit that we’ve done plenty of abandoning God. Attendance at Sunday worship services is lower than it’s ever been. Most of us are comfortable going along with social norms about pre-marital sex, alternatives to marriage, casual drug use, socially acceptable forms of discrimination, and a throw-away consumer culture that is very different from the life of the Saints. We tend to ignore God unless there is something we want. Or we need someone to blame.
This is nothing new. The crowd quickly turned from “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him!” Peter abandoned Jesus; Judas betrayed him; his friends ran away. Yet Jesus remained faithful to God. His last words on the cross were, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Jesus was faithful until death. His Resurrection proves that God is faithful even beyond death.
Our journey through the covenant this Lenten season has taught us that God is worth more: more than descendants, more than power, more than riches, more than honor. And we have seen God’s faithfulness from generation to generation. This is the true meaning of Easter. Our violence, sin, selfishness, and death have not caused God to abandon us. In fact, it was our very sinfulness that caused God to draw near to us. He sent Jesus to offer his life in exchange for ours.
Jesus proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that there is nowhere we can run, no place we can fall, that God is not already there. When we find ourselves hanging on the crosses of life, feeling forsaken by God, realize that Jesus himself is hanging next to you, suffering with you and for you. Turn to him and say, “Jesus, remember me.” And you will hear him say: “I never forgot you. I meant what I said, ‘I will be with you always.’”
Though you may have abandoned Him a thousand times, God has not abandoned you. Turn back to him with all your heart. Thank God for his faithfulness to you. Ask His help to be more faithful in the little moments of everyday life. We may fall, and fall, and fall, but God will always be there to forgive us and pick us up. Until finally we fall into His arms for one last time as we take our final breath. If we are faithful until death, we will hear Jesus say to us, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Lots of fairy tales end with Happily Ever After, but there’s only one true story that does. It just so happens to be our story.
In the Joy of Easter, ~Fr. Joel
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