Pavens fasterefleksjoner

"My God, my God, Why Have you Forsaken me?"

Fourth Reflections of Papal Spiritual Exercises

"The first time I had to defend myself in court no one was by my side. Everyone abandoned me. But the Lord was with me and he strengthened me, so that even on that occasion I was able to proclaim his message." With these words from St. Paul, Archbishop François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân began the fourth day of the Papal spiritual exercises. Today the Vietnamese Archbishop contemplated Christ on the Cross, hearing in the depths of his heart the anguished cry of Christ: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

The Archbishop explained that the abandonment St. Paul felt, he, himself, also experienced during his 13 years of incarceration in Vietnamese prisons. "On several occasions I felt abandoned, especially on the night of December 1, 1975, when I was chained to another person and we were taken on foot, along with other prisoners, from the prison to the ship in which later they would take us to the north of Vietnam, some 1,100 miles from my diocese. I felt great pastoral suffering, but I can assure you that the Father did not abandon me, and he gave me the strength."

"Perhaps all of us, on different occasions, have lived or are living similar moments of abandonment," he continued. "We feel abandoned when we are engulfed by loneliness and a sense of failure; when we feel the weight of our humanity and our sins. We feel abandoned when misunderstandings and infidelities disturb our fraternal relations; when we think the situation of confusion and despair in which some find themselves has no way out; when we are in touch with the Church's sufferings and that of whole peoples"

"These are small or great 'nights of the soul' that darken the presence of God in us. Nevertheless, he is near and gives meaning to our whole life. In such moments even joy and love seem extinguished." According to Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân, it is precisely at these times when we can best understand the "mystery of the cross."

"The saints also experienced nights of despair, moments in which they felt abandoned by everything and everyone. However, as real experts in the love of God, they never hesitated to walk the way of the cross to the end, allowing themselves to be illumined and forged by it, even when this implied their own death," stated the Vietnamese Archbishop. "This is the law of the Gospel: 'If the seed fallen on the ground does not die, it remains alone, but if it dies, it produces much fruit.' This is also Jesus' own law: his death was real, but far more real is the superabundant life that flows from that death."

In the letter to the Philippians, St. Paul presents Christ "at the moment he strips himself of his divine form, to take on 'the form of slave,' the 'likeness of men.' This is the image of a God who 'annihilates' himself, 'empties' himself in order to give himself, to give his own life unconditionally, to the point of the cross, where he takes upon himself all the guilt of the world, to the point that He, the 'innocent,' the 'just' comes to resemble sinful man," explained Archbishop Nguyên Van Thuân. This is the wondrous exchange between God and man, which St. Augustine described as the "commerce of love," and Leo the Great as the "commerce of salvation."

Christ carries the sins of man to the point that from the cross he cries out to the Father: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" "He had been betrayed by men," the Archbishop continued, "his own were not with him, and now God, whom he called 'Papa' ('Abba'), was silent. The Son feels the void of his absence, he loses the joy of his presence. The unqualified certainty of never being alone, of always being heard by the Father, of being an instrument of his will, gave way to this sorrowful supplication."

The Vietnamese Archbishop concluded by saying: "It was the most desolating sensible abandonment he experienced in his lie, as John of the Cross states. Thus Christ was annihilated and reduced virtually to nothing. And, yet, St. John of the Cross continues to explain, precisely when he was oppressed, he accomplished the most wondrous work of all those he carried out during his existence on earth, which was full of miracles and prodigies of all kinds. With his death he reconciled and united God with mankind. In this amazing dynamic of the love of God, all our sufferings are taken up and transformed, every void is filled, every sin redeemed. Our abandonment, our distance from God is filled to overflowing."

Forrige Innhold Neste

av Webmaster publisert 31.03.2006, sist endret 31.03.2006 - 18:18