Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Cross: Finding God in the Depth of Silence
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (v. 46)
Recently I phoned a friend, just to say, ‘Hi’. After our initial pleasantries, she added in a calm tone: “I have been diagnosed with cancer; it is malignant.” I was speechless. How could…?This lady is a faithful Christian; the mother of a child with special needs, also her job is crucial to the income of the family. How could God allow this? Over the next few weeks, I noticed her Facebook postings; there was not a trace of bitterness or despair in them; they were messages of hope and faith. It was as if she had found a calmness in the silence that surrounded her.
In today’s passage we are reminded of the silence of God. For Jesus’ fervent question on the Cross - “My God, why have you forsaken me?” God’s answer was: silence. The Mar Thoma Church’s Order of Service for Good Friday portrays the event of crucifixion in poignant terms: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? The earth quaked, the rocks burst open, and the sun refused to shine… Seeing you hanging from the cross the fiery beings shudder; the Cherubim tremble and the Seraphim are embarrassed. There was darkness at mid-day as the eternal light was hanging on the cross”(pp. 19-20). Even in the midst of such catastrophic events, God remained silent. “My God, why have you forsaken me”, was perhaps, the only plea of Jesus to his Father that seemed to go unanswered. Jesus on the Cross was truly the embodiment of loneliness and abandonment.
In our lives too, we are often besieged with unanswered questions: Why is a mother struck by a dreadful disease? Why did a dear one end her life so cruelly? Why is there so much war, injustice, famine, oppression? Where, O God, are you when we need you the most? Our questions are often met with silence.
However, even in the silence of God, our Lord could feelhis Father’s reassuring presence. As the psalmist put it: “I hold myself in quiet and silence, like a little child in his mother’s arms” (Ps. 131:2). Jesus’ last utterance on the Cross- “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk. 23: 46) - reflected his certainty about the presence of God in this moment of silence. As Soren Kierkegaard said: Dear God, “May we not forget that you also talk when you keep silent… In your silence as well as in your word, you are always the same Father, the same paternal and maternal heart, and you guide us with your love and elevate us with your silence.”
And as we wait upon the silence on the Cross, we will have the most amazing experience.The silenceof Good Friday and Holy Saturday is but a “hopeful silence” as we await in eager anticipationthe fulfillment of God’s promise. For, on Sunday, we will join the multitude in heaven and on earth in singing the chorus, “Christ, the Lord, is Risen today, Alleluia!”
Prayer: As we look into the darkness of Good Friday, help us O Lord, to see the light of Easter.
Thought for the day: “The Church – all of us – must discover the power of silence.” (Cardinal Luis Antonio de Tagle).
Jesudas M. Athyal, Carmel MTC, Boston