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While Jesus was dying on the cross, He cried out words implying that God had forsaken Him. Some say He was reciting a psalm, others that God truly abandoned Him. Regardless of which is correct, can you comment on what Jesus might have expected of God at that moment if He felt abandoned? Much has been written about this, but I have not read anything about what may have prompted Jesus to utter the words. Was it human anguish?

Dear Del,

“My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?” is a cry of distress, but not of despair. Of course, the Father was not abandoning Him! Jesus was steeped in the psalms. It is no wonder that such a psalm would come to His lips at such a time. Psalm 22 begins: “My God, my God, why have you deserted me? How far from saving me, the words I groan! I call by day, my God, but you never answer, all night long I call and cannot rest” (Verses 1-2). In the middle of the psalm we read: “I can count every one of my bones, and there they glare at me, gloating; they divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothes” (Verses 15-18). At the end of the psalm we read: “The whole earth, from end to end, will remember and come back to Yahweh; all the families of the nations will bow down before him” (Verse 27).

That this psalm was on His lips was no accident. It’s all about Him and His passion and how it is the will of the Father that His people return to Him.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.
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