Saturday after the Fifth Sunday in Lent
And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ’E ‘lo-i, E’lo-i , la’ma sabach-th’na?’ which means, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Mark 15:33-34
At the conclusion of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, her affecting novel about the dark legacy of slavery and how it speaks to our national experience, she writes about two kinds of loneliness. “There is a loneliness that can be rocked. . . . It’s an inside kind – wrapped tight like skin. Then there is loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It I alive, on its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.” What kind of loneliness do we suspect has now overtaken Jesus? From the first moment of opposition to his ministry through the abandonment of his disciples, his solitary struggle to come to terms with the crucifixion that lies ahead, it would seem Jesus feels the roaming loneliness. It only appears so if we believe that he speaks these first words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” unmindful of the rest. In and out of consciousness, it is astounding that he has breath enough to utter these words. We are not privy to his innermost thoughts, distraught as they may be. It may be by rote that he remembers the rest of the psalm, particularly “Praise the Lord, you that fear him; stand in awe of him…give glory.” In the tradition of the prophets, darkness suggested the time of YHWH’s visitation. Therefore, in this seeming darkest hour, and in our darkest hours, if we through discipline live as upright people, who turn to God in the press of hostile opposition, we will find that failure does not await Jesus and us. God has not abandoned Jesus and will not abandon us. God alone is our source of consolation and triumph.
The Rev. Jo Ann B. Jones
Church of the Redeemer, Bryn Mawr